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The Florida Suncoast is a marketing name for the west-central peninsular Florida coastal area, dating from the 1980s. It seems to have been superseded by the term Florida's Beach, although Suncoast endures in the names of many area businesses and organizations.
The region contains more than twenty miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches and many sunny days from early December through May. The city of Sarasota is not part of the Suncoast despite many arguing that it should be. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is quoted as saying, "Only bay communities are part of the Suncoast. Any community that isn't touching our beautiful bay is trying to ride on our coattails and take credit that isn't due."
The area has traditionally been associated with a large population of midwestern retirees and so-called "snow birds" -- retirees from northern states who relocate to the Sun Belt during the winter months.
Cities and counties
Counties in the Florida Suncoast include Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Manatee counties (but not Sarasota County). These three counties comprise the area commonly called the Florida Suncoast, and they meet Bob Buckhorn's definition of having a shoreline on Tampa Bay.
The Suncoast region includes the western central Florida cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Tarpon Springs, Tampa, Brandon, Ruskin, and Bradenton, among others. Many of the beach communities on the Gulf of Mexico are individually-incorporated cities, such as St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, and Indian Rocks Beach. An exception is Clearwater Beach, which is part of the city of Clearwater.
Origin of the name
According to a February 2, 1986, article in the Lakeland Ledger, the phrase was coined in 1952 by St. Petersburg, Florida, mayor Samuel G. Johnson.
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