Before Silicon Valley High-Tech Entrepreneurship, Cocoa Beach Area Brimmed With Best Technical Minds

By  //  June 7, 2016

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kids were dubbed the 'Cape Brats'

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Before there was a Silicon Valley for high-tech entrepreneurship, Cocoa Beach and other surrounding towns were brimming with the best and brightest technical minds around. (LIFE image via pintrest.com)

Heard of an Ouroborus? Thought so.

It’s an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail. On a sun-splashed April weekend, artist Todd Brittingham turned up in Cocoa Beach, Fla. to create his own giant Ouroborus. It marked the 28th Annual Earth Work, during which the artist along with a gang of helpers built a massive environmental sculpture in the sand. He called it a “Sky Message,” and it took up the length of two football fields.

The sand art seems a natural fit. An iconic and quirky beach town, Cocoa Beach is celebrated for wide beaches and surfing teachers, fishing rigs and dinosaur digs, a surf megastore and art galleries galore, rocket launches, oceanfront happy hours and candy colored sunsets.

Set in the heart of Florida’s Space Coast — that stretches 72 miles along Florida’s east coast — the kitschy beach town has 321 for its area code. For good reason: it’s just a short drive north on Route A1A to the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Cocoa Beach came to life during the 1960s when America’s space program took off. Over the next decade the local population swelled from 23,000 to 70,000. Before there was a Silicon Valley for high-tech entrepreneurship, Cocoa Beach and other surrounding towns were brimming with the best and brightest technical minds around. Young families flocked here with one or both parents working on some aspect of the space program.

SPACE HISTORY: NASA Introduced Mercury Astronaut Team To An Adoring Nation In April 1959Related Story:
SPACE HISTORY: NASA Introduced Mercury Astronaut Team To An Adoring Nation In April 1959

Their kids were dubbed the “Cape Brats.” After manned space flights, the town staged parades with astronauts riding in flashy Corvettes. Space fever was everywhere. Motels named The Sea Missile and Satellite popped up alongside offbeat diners like The Moon Hut. Dining out, locals often rubbed shoulders with astronauts and packs of rocket scientists.

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John Glenn parades through Cocoa Beach with Vice President Lydon Johnson. After manned space flights, the town staged parades with astronauts riding in flashy Corvettes. Space fever was everywhere. Motels named The Sea Missile and Satellite popped up alongside offbeat diners like The Moon Hut. Dining out, locals often rubbed shoulders with astronauts and packs of rocket scientists. (Image via pintrest.com)


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