First and foremost let me say what an honor and a privilege it was to serve as the Grand Marshall of the 2013 Destin Christmas Parade on Saturday — it was an absolute blast.
With early predictions of an 80 percent chance of rain on Saturday, I've never checked the weather forecast so many times in one week as I did last week. It wasn't that I was scared to get wet, but I didn't want it to rain on my parade for the sake of the many youngsters and adults that look forward to the annual event that has rolled down Hwy. 98 for the last 28 years. Plus folks around town had put a lot of preparation into getting those floats ready.
When I arrived at the staging area on a gloomy but dry Saturday morning, I was stopped by the parking lot police. After I rolled down my window and yelled out "where is the lead car for the parade?" The guys did a double take and yelled back … "Oh hey Tina, park anywhere you like and we will have someone come and pick you up."
I think at that moment, it hit me that this was really happening. Of course, I didn't wait for someone to pick me up, I walked to the front where my ride was supposed to be, but it hadn't arrived yet. Not long after, Jake Brashears, who so kindly volunteered to drive me in the parade, showed up and we walked around to look at some of the other entries in the parade as folks were adding those last minute touches.
Along the way folks were very kind and congratulated me on being named Grand Marshal of the parade.
One lady even asked if I had been practicing my wave as she motioned with the "pageant wave." You know the one I'm talking about; you see it on all the Miss America pageants and such.
"Of course not," I said as I gave her a big old full-arm Wewa wave … which is the only way I know how.
Not long after, we made our way back up to the front. There sat the bright red Jeep from Elite Jeeps that was to be my sleigh for the day. Seconds later, city staff came along and slapped on a magnetic sign that made it official — Grand Marshall 2013 Tina Harbuck. It took a minute or two to figure how to take the top off the Jeep, but we got it down.
I didn't want to just sit in the seat and wave … I wanted to be where I could see the crowds lining the stretch of Highway.
So with bags loaded with candy, Destin Log coozies and special handmade Destin Log Christmas tree ornaments, I stood in the back of the Jeep holding on to the roll bar. I also had my pocket camera in hand to capture the moments along the way.
I can’t put into words how cool and humbling it was to ride down the road, in a seat of honor, and have people all along the way yelling … "Hey Tina!” “We love The Log! “Congratualtions … you deserve it." It was awesome. I saw so many familiar faces … those I've covered on the ball fields or at the fishing docks, gone to church with or just met along the way.
Jake and I made it through the entire parade route without getting wet, however, I'm sad to say others like my Log co-workers weren’t so lucky as the rain started to fall about an hour into the parade.
Thanks again for the honor and letting me serve the community I call home.
Now I can say, been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the sign.
Tina Harbuck has been covering the city of Destin for The Log for 30 years.
Destin Christmas Parade winners
The votes are in and the winners of the 28th Annual Destin Christmas Parade are...
Chamber Award (Best Commercial) – No. 79 Legendary Marine
Civic Award (Best Civic) – No. 29 American Legion Post 296
Santa’s Helper (Children’s Commercial) – No. 40 ATA Martial Arts Academy
Elf Award (Children’s Civic) – No. 62 Destin Little League Girls
Angel Award (Best Religious) – No. 55 Village Baptist Church
Noel Award (Best Band) – No. 16 McGuire’s Pipe & Drum
Crowd Pleaser – No. 70 Setco Service, LLC
All awards will be presented to the winners at the Jan. 6 Destin City Council meeting at 6 p.m.
Watch the parade on TV
If you missed it, or if you had so much fun you want to see it again, the Destin Christmas Parade will be aired on Cox Cable, Channel 6, during the following times:
Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.
Dec. 21 at 9 p.m.
Dec. 22 at noon and 6 p.m.
Dec. 24 at 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 25 at 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.