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Tram driver enhances Hidden Dunes experience

One of the many amenities designed to provide owners and guests at Hidden Dunes Beach and Tennis Resort with the best possible stay is the complimentary seasonal tram service, which makes a 1.5 mile loop around the grounds from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every summer. But for the resort’s main tram driver Joe Kelly, his job is not only to pick up guests at the tennis courts and drop them off at the beach.

“What I try to do is enhance the visit here,” says Kelly, who has driven the eight-passenger open air tram at Hidden Dunes for four years now. “I try to show the little children a good time, and with the parents I show them all the different trees, the birds singing in them. We have very old trees; Hidden Dunes wasn’t clear-cut like other places when it was built.”

Before moving to the Emerald Coast with his wife, Rosemarie, Kelly lived in Pittsburgh. He served 24 years in the U.S. Military, 15 years as a mail carrier and six years as what he calls “one of those annoying phone solicitors.”

Now he spends his summers trying to make guests of Hidden Dunes resort feel comfortable and taken care of, and in the off-season, he works various jobs, such as mystery shopping, to stay active. He also does a lot of traveling. In September, he and his wife will be journeying back to Germany and Austria, where they were married and spent their honeymoon, to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

In the meantime, beginning Memorial Day weekend, Joe Kelly can be seen zipping around Hidden Dunes with a matchbook in his pocket, in case a guest wants to light up one of the many barbecue pits found around the resort. He takes extra special care of the children and anyone who is less mobile than others, he says, making sure to reach out and offer his hand to each one. Last year, he received a letter from a property owner thanking him for his help. “…my mother is less mobile than I,” the letter read, “and we were walking past the turtle pond when he stopped for us. This tram ride, along with Joe’s knowledge [of the trees and plants around the resort], was right atop the list of our favorite things during our vacation.”

“That is just so special to me,” Kelly says. “I really think the Lord put me in this job to help people.” In addition to his policy of helping anyone and everyone who needs a ride, Joe strictly enforces “The Kelly Rules,” which he states are as follows: “One—no beautiful woman will ever have to walk as long as I’m around. Two—I determine who is beautiful, so they can’t turn away. And three—on my tram, no matter who you are, we’re going to have fun.”



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Published by Tracy Louthain
Wednesday, May 25, 2011