As the 2019 calendar year winds down to a close, a new and exciting snowbird season is just beginning. To date, nearly 300 have registered and several are first timers. What better way to get to know one another than to sing joyful, familiar Christmas carols together?


That’s exactly what Nancy Thiele and her Emerald Coast Community Band had everyone doing at last Tuesday’s year-end snowbird meeting. A beautiful new arrangement of "Away in a Manger" capped the morning leaving everyone in a delightful holiday mood. Snowbirds were seen exchanging names and contact information as they filed out of the Roost.


Several, however, lingered awhile to examine and purchase the beautiful items offered by Joanne Andrychuk and her creative crew of crafters. While the major craft show isn’t until Feb. 4, last Tuesday’s sampling presented solutions for that "hard-to buy-for" family member or friend. Joanne wants everyone to know that she also takes orders for personalized embroidered towels. Her contact information is on the snowbird activity sheet under "craft shows." She can also connect you to the other crafters if you would like more information about the items they exhibited.


The New Year will begin for the snowbirds on Jan. 6, when the majority will register at what is known as the Big Registration from 1 to 3 p.m. The line will be long, but Linda Zukonik and her registration team will have it moving smoothly and swiftly. Hopefully, everyone who wants to register will show up on Monday because there will not be registration opportunities on Tuesday before the meetings. On Jan. 7, we will begin the split morning sessions, the first meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the second at 11 a.m.


If you happen to be one of those snowbirds who joins to have access to certain activities but doesn’t plan on attending the weekly meetings, I hope you will reconsider. Here’s what you will find that might make Tuesdays one of your favorite days.


When you walk into the Roost, the first thing you will encounter will be the vendors who set up tables to offer samples and/or information on their products and services. Some are there every week and some only come once or twice. One of the regulars is 790 on the Gulf. They not only pass out information on their specials, but they often serve samples of their famous bread pudding. The Crab Trap is another vendor who offers tastings of their popular seafood gumbo. There are often so many delicious samples that some might consider it a mid-morning meal. There are also representatives from the medical field, beauty, travel and casino trips, among a variety of others.


In the front of the gymnasium are snowbird event tables where tickets are sold and information is available for various activities such as the Harbor Party Cruises, T.G.I.T. parties, the New Orleans Mardi Gras trip, Golf tournaments, The Valentine Dinner Dance, the Fashion Show luncheon and the Soundsations Benefit Concert. Many of these events sell out every year, so it’s another good reason to not only attend the meetings, but to arrive early.


Upon taking your seat at either 8:30 or 11 a.m., president Ted Spring will call the meeting to order and share some brief but important tidbits that will include things like changes in the venue of specific activities and where the Singles Friendship Club will be meeting for lunch. Then, after both the Canadian and American national anthems are played, he will introduce the entertainer for that day. Jan. 7 will be snowbird favorites Jabbo and Krissa.


For subsequent meetings, Ted has lined up popular talent such as David Seering, Bobby D, Todd Herendeen, Pat and Tareva Henderson Boone and David Hall. These performers typically entertain evenings at various hot spots around Destin, so we are very fortunate to have them perform for us before the crack of noon.


Finally, before adjournment, the real reason several attend will take place; the drawing of names for a plethora of terrific door prizes. There are over 150 vendors that support the Destin snowbirds and almost all of them donate prizes for weekly drawings. Golf outings, fishing trips and dinner gift cards are just some of the gifts that are handed out each week. Members must be registered with a valid membership number to be eligible to win.


For more up-to-date information including storage locker accessibility times, be sure to check our website at www.destinsnowbirds.org.


See you next year at the Tuesday morning meetings.


Mary Pierce, publicity director, is from Toledo, Ohio, and can be reached at 419-250-9377 or destinsbclub.publicity@gmail.com. She will be writing the weekly column for the papers, so if you have something to share, contact her.