Back in 1993, then-snowbird president Robert Maxwell received a letter from the Sundestin Condominium association stating that their community room would no longer be able to accommodate the expanding number of snowbirds. It had been the sixth "Roost" that the group had outgrown since their inauguration. The meetings were moved to the Destin Community Center and the snowbirds have nested there ever since.
Last Monday, current president Ted Spring cut the ribbon to open the Roost at the Community Center for the 46th Destin snowbird season. Nearly 100 people showed up to hear welcoming remarks from President Spring, Mayor Gary Jarvis, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Shane Moody and City Councilman Skip Overdier. Coffee and cookies were available inside as the assemblage filed in to fill out their registration cards. Linda Zukonik and her team were ready for them and the day went without a hitch.
While the majority of registrants were returning to their familiar winter enclave, there were more than a few newcomers. Sue Chapman came from the United Kingdom to visit her sister Helen Everett, who now resides in Destin. Helen’s husband was with the British Air Force and they had a chance to visit the area many years ago. Helen said that she knew back then that she wanted to retire here. Both decided to give the snowbird club a try and they look forward to all the activities and events the club has to offer.
JoDell and Dave Haverfield are also snowbird newcomers. Originally from Montana, they moved to Miramar Beach about 12 years ago. JoDell, who was involved with the Mrs. America organization, discovered the beautiful Emerald Coast when she came as judge for the Mrs. Florida-America Pageant. They are hoping to meet snowbirds who share their interest in family history, also known as genealogy. Dave keeps up-to-date with the newest software that helps people track their roots.
Most of those who registered on Monday returned for the first meeting of the season on Tuesday. There were a few disappointed attendees who did not get the word that registration would not be available before the meeting. Remember, registrations will now take place on Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon. Exceptions will be noted in my columns, announced at meetings and placed on our website at www.destinsnowbirds.org. The next opportunity to register will be Monday, Dec. 2.
A major reason folks attend the weekly snowbird meetings is for the amazing entertainment and last Tuesday’s performers were exceptional. Kim Cannon, a favorite season opener for the past 13 years, was on the schedule. This year, however, instead of performing, he introduced a young new band called The Bonhoeffers (they named their band in honor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an ordained German pastor who authored several books and articles before being executed by the Nazis). Starting with a folksy rendition of Janis Joplin’s "Bobby McGee," they then followed with several familiar and favorite tunes. Snowbirds who want an encore can find them performing at The Cuvee Kitchen & Wine Bar.
There will not be a meeting next Tuesday, and the only Tuesday meetings in December will be Dec. 3, with Rich McDuff returning to delight everyone, and Dec. 10, when the Emerald Coast Community Band will put us in a happy holiday mood. Unique items that would make perfect Christmas gifts will be available at the Tuesday, Dec. 10 Craft Show.
Thursday is Thanksgiving. I asked several snowbirds what they felt most thankful for and most replied that they were thankful to be away from the cold, snow and ice. It is a blessing to be able to winter in the warmth and beauty of the Emerald Coast. I hope everyone has a happy, blessed and fulfilling Thanksgiving!
Mary Pierce, publicity director, is from Toledo, Ohio, and can be reached at 419-250-9377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be writing the weekly column for the papers, so if you have something to share, contact her.