Cocoa Beach's mayor to make good on bet with beach cleanup – Florida Today

For the Cocoa Beach mayor, it’s time to pay up.
When Cape Canaveral won this year’s “Most Fit City” during the Health First’s Mayors’ Fitness Challenge, the city’s victory came with more than bragging rights. There was a mayoral bet attached.
And now Ben Malik of Cocoa Beach is ready to make good.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, Malik will be donning a tuxedo shirt (or jacket if he can’t find a shirt in time) and swim trunks (“baggies” as they are called in Cocoa Beach) and cleaning up the beach at Cherie Down Park in Cape Canaveral.
Expect Cape Canaveral Mayor Wes Morrison to be there good-naturedly gloating. 
“He’s been a good sport and said, ‘all right, time for me to pay up,’” Morrison said.
“A gentleman doesn’t welch on his bet,” Malik noted.
The fitness challenge managed by the United Way of Brevard (of which I am a board member), is a light-hearted fitness contest that pits Brevard’s mayors and their municipalities against each other. Participants register as part of a municipality’s team and then log their weekly minutes of exercise. The team with the greatest average number of minutes and participation rate wins.
Cape Canaveral won this year — again. In fact, not only did they win, but they broke a record of 1 million minutes of exercise. They’d come in as the defending champion, having won also in 2021 and in 2020. Cocoa Beach won in 2018 and 2019.
That rivalry is what prompted the bet and a good bit of ribbing in a column I wrote back in January. Initially, Morrison proposed: “Let’s say, whichever city falls short, their mayor has to mow the grass at the winner’s City Hall in a tuxedo.”
Malik countered: “I am in but would propose loser has to do beach clean up (in tux and baggies!) for a few hours!”
Now the time has come. And in the spirit of the fitness challenge, both mayors are also asking the community to play a role, which was another aim of the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge, bringing people together. 
Altogether, 2,400 people participated in this year’s Health First’s Mayors’ Fitness Challenge from multiple Brevard municipalities, logging a total of 5.2 million minutes of exercise.
Both Morrison and Malik are inviting the public to the beach cleanup on Saturday. Bring your bags, buckets or other items such as gloves. Coffee and donuts will be provided. Meet under the pavilions at the park.
“Make sure if you see Mayor Malik wearing that tuxedo coat please tell him his outfit seems a bit INAPPROPRIATE,” Morrison wrote on Facebook, noting that he’ll be there Saturday but “I may not be able to pick up anything since someone needs to carry the championship trophy around!”
Morrison credited Cape Canaveral’s city design for contributing to their victory. “We really tried to design our city to be bikeable and walkable, to make it as easy as possible to walk out your front door and start exercising,” he said.
Mara Bellaby is executive editor of FLORIDA TODAY. She can be reached at 


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