To celebrate the history of Palm Beach, The Royal Poinciana Plaza in partnership with the Young Friends of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County hosted its first-ever Coconut Carnival on Saturday February 8, from 10:00am – 7:00pm. The day will was filled with fun activities for children and adults.
Why Coconuts? Where did Palm Beach get its name?
The story of how the island of Palm Beach came by its name is well known. As fitting for Palm Beach, it stemmed from a combination of boating, coconuts and wine. On January 9, 1878, the 175-ton brig Providencia was bound from Trinidad to Cadiz, Spain. Its cargo: 20,000 coconuts. It turned out the sailors had dipped into the grog a bit during the voyage. So, when the ship grounded on the coast of what is now Palm Beach, the crew thought they had landed in Mexico. Once they realized where they were, they decided the ship could not go on with its cargo.
The few local residents of what was then called “the lake region” rushed to the beach. “I was greeted by the mate of the vessel, with a bottle of wine and a box of cigars, as a sort of olive branch,” pioneer Will Lanehart wrote. “There were 20,000 coconuts, and they seemed like a godsend to the people. For several weeks, everyone was eating coconuts and drinking wine.” Lanehart and fellow pioneer H.F. Hammon took the nuts as salvage and sold them for 2½ cents each. Within a decade, the area was filled with palm trees, and the island had a new name.