Snowbirds James and Carolyn Smallets have found a treasure in Destin — literally.
The Ohio couple has enjoyed 10 years of fishing, golfing and shopping in Destin while they've been members of the Snowbird club. But as Carolyn flashes a sparkling-three stone diamond ring, the Ohioans' tell The Log they do have one slightly different hobby than most — metal detecting.
"I found that particular ring two years ago here in Destin at a small inlet beach," said James, who spends a lot of his time in Destin searching for treasures along the miles of coastline that Florida has to offer. "I usually find coins, I've found other jewelry, wedding rings; I always find something.
“And I always get something, if it doesn't end up belonging to someone else," joked Carolyn.
As the Destin Snowbirds ring in the new year, the group held its first — and largest — registration of the season at The Community Center Roost on Monday, drawing a large crowd of familiar faces and some new ones as well.
First-time visitors, Mike and Lisa Lehman from Michigan, said they chose Destin as their destination because of all of the great things they've heard about the area over the years from friends and family — including Mike's brother who lives a short skip away in Pensacola.
"We're pretty active — we like to play golf, bike and fish," said Lisa, "oh, and we're going to play pickle ball," added Mike, referring to the cross between badminton and tennis that gained popularity at the Destin Community Center last year.
While the Lehmans arrived on the sandy shores of the Emerald Coast less than a week ago, Snowbirds have been flocking south since the early '70s when "Red" and Virginia Lyon began spending their winters in Destin after retiring — organizing potluck dinners and card games for similar visitors in the area.
The Destin Snowbird Club got its wings in 1979 when it officially became an organization.
Gail Brown of Ontario — one of the more than 10 volunteers registering snowbirds on Monday, said this is her fifth year traveling to Destin for the winter.
The registration hours were from 2 to 4 p.m. — "I've registered about 500 people so far," said Brown, who was only about halfway through the day.
Brown said her favorite things to do in town with her fellow birds are shuffleboard and golf.
Overall, the day registered 1,009 snowbirds.