Jekyll Island will spend 2022 celebrating a defining moment in its history.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the island’s opening to the public as a state park. Prior to this, the island served primarily as a winter playground for a group of wealthy families who made up the members of the exclusive Jekyll Island Club.

The state of Georgia bought Jekyll Island in 1947, then the government. ME Thompson declared the island “a playground that now belongs to every Georgian”, according to a timeline posted on jekyllisland.com.

“For the first time in its history, a significant portion of Georgia’s coastline has become accessible to the public,” according to the website. “Plans were quickly put into motion to ‘turn Jekyll into America’s finest coastal park,’ from a declining millionaire’s retreat to a public treasure.”

The Jekyll Island Authority has planned a series of events, exhibits and more to celebrate this anniversary.

The celebration officially began on Friday with a party attended by state dignitaries, Jekyll staff and residents and many others who were prepared to dress up and enjoy entertainment and fine dining in birthday honor.

The state purchased the island in 1947 for $675,000, or about $6.7 million today. Jekyll Island opened to the public as a state park on March 5, 1948.

And in 1950, the Jekyll Island Authority was created. JIA’s goal was to be an autonomous state agency that would manage the natural and cultural resources of the new state park and protect it from overdevelopment.

A drawbridge to the island was completed in 1954. Tallu Fish founded the Jekyll Island Museum, operating from Indian Mound Cottage, the same year.

To learn more about this story and the events planned for the anniversary celebration, visit jekyllisland.com.

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