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The History Behind Henri’s Starlite Scoops

Cocoa Beach, Florida. The 1960s.

Space exploration was in full swing and the town was booming. While America hurried to send humans into space, astronauts, engineers and renowned news anchors filled the area. And, right in the middle of it all was Give Kids The World Founder, Henri Landwirth.

John Glenn, Annie Glenn, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson ride in a parade through Cocoa Beach, Florida, celebrating Glenn’s Friendship 7 space flight, February 23, 1962

Henri managed the 100-room Starlite Motel in Cocoa Beach and it quickly became a popular hangout spot for those in the space industry. There, you could run into astronauts such as John Glenn or famous news anchors such as Walter Cronkite.

Henri built meaningful friendships with them, and they could often be found playing outlandish pranks on each other.

Like when John Glenn complained at the front desk that there were no towels in his room. The next time he checked in, Henri had stacked towels on every available surface of the room. Or the time when astronaut Gordon Cooper was at the Starlite pool – fishing rod in hand.

When Henri asked him what he was doing, he replied: “I’m fishing.”

“You’re fishing in my swimming pool,” said Henri.

“Yep.” And Cooper proceeded to pour a big cooler full of live fish into the hotel pool.

These men, along with many others, eventually helped bring Henri’s vision to life when he set out to create Give Kids The World Village. John Glenn even carried a Give Kids The World flag into space on one of his missions!

From left to right: Senator John Glenn, Michael Meeks, Henri Landwirth, and Art Buchwald

Fast forward to Give Kids The World Village, 2019.

This year we’re opening Henri’s Starlite Scoops, which pays homage to Henri’s beginnings in the hospitality industry, the men and women who helped Give Kids The World come to be, and the wonder of space exploration. This retro, space-themed ice cream parlor will even feature authentic memorabilia from the Starlite Motel.

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