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The art of promotion

This shot from the Aug. 19, 1976, Hi-Riser newspaper supplement is a boat show promoter’s dream. It’s 1976, and (from left) Irv Diebert, Elmer Strauss and Ron Stroud lay out the welcome mat for visitors to the annual Fort Lauderdale boat show. (The little blonde-haired helper is unidentified — a grandchild, perhaps?)

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The yacht brokers believed in growing recreational boating, and they went all-out with promotions that year, arranging for a cruise from Stamford, Conn., down the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida in this 62-foot Pacemaker’s sister ship. The yacht, with this banner on her transom, made several stops at major marinas along the ICW on her way to the Sunshine State. The promotion touted not only the upcoming Fort Lauderdale show but the delights of the growing city, as well. “The place to go in Florida,” says one sign on the yacht in the background. “No traffic snarls, no squealing brakes,” declares another.

Promotions such as these helped grow both the boat show and boating. The first Fort Lauderdale exhibition was held in 1959, with exhibitors setting up in the city’s War Memorial Auditorium. Other early venues included a jai-alai fronton and the city’s municipal docks. The year this photo was taken, the show moved to the Bahia Mar Yachting Center.

Today, the show — owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and produced by Show Management of Fort Lauderdale — covers some 3 million square feet of exhibitor space in six locations, including the Bahia Mar, making it the biggest in-water boat show in the world. It runs Oct. 25-29 this year.

November 2012 issue