The snowbirds are coming, the snowbirds are coming!
They are easily identified by their peculiar license plates that can be seen on just about every other car moseying down Scenic 98. Caution! They have been known to stop for no other reason than to watch the waves roll up to the white sandy shore or to take a hearty whiff of the warm salty breeze.
They bring their many summer stories to share: the hole-in-one on their state’s toughest golf course, that six-foot fish that broke the line and got away, those once-in-a-lifetime bargains they were able to bag, grandchildren that are the brightest, best-looking, winningest, friendliest and most recognized among all their peers, fish that they’ve kissed and planes that they jumped out of. Think I’m kidding? Think again.
The summer adventures of Paul and Nancy Hewitt of Ontario included becoming honorary Newfoundlanders by getting “screeched in” (Much like moonshine, Newfoundland Screech was the hooch of choice in days gone by). To receive this honor one must speak some phrases in the Newfoundland dialect, toss back some screech and kiss a cod. As the traditional icon of their economy, Newfoundlanders love their cod!
Pat Stott Prince, also from Ontario, celebrated turning 80 by jumping out of an airplane. Pat loves to fly, especially in small aircraft, and she has traversed the skies over Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Jumping from a plane had been on her bucket list so she was thrilled when her brother planned the adventure. She said she would do it again, but her next bucket-list item is to dangle from a flying helicopter.
When they weren’t journeying from their home in Tennessee through Indianapolis to Canada, Dean and Debbie Harper spent their summer hunting — not for big game, but for big bargains in unique vehicles. Dean bagged a 1949 Chevrolet 3100 with a 5.3 liter engine and a 4L60 transmission, then quickly resold it for a nice profit. Sadly, he did the same with the 2006 red Corvette convertible that looked perfectly suited to Debbie’s lifestyle.
It’s not unusual for snowbirds to enjoy quality time with children and grandchildren over the summer months. Social media sites were teeming with photos of happy snowbirds with their precious progenies. Not many, however, still have the opportunity to spend time with their parents. Linda Zukonik of Michigan feels blessed. Her 99-year old mother, Evelyn Wanat, is still tending to her orchards and enjoying an occasional happy-hour with Linda and her husband Ed. In February, Linda will travel back to Michigan for a big 100th birthday celebration.
Summer may be over but the fun is just about to begin. The Roost will be officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Nov. 26, at 1 p.m. Registration will follow until 3 p.m. The first meeting of the season will be Tuesday, Nov. 27. More information will be included in next week’s column or you can check the website at www.destinsnowbirds.org.
Along with stories and plans, snowbirds come to the Emerald Coast with hearts full of love and compassion. Many are asking how they can help the victims of Hurricane Michael. The list of organizations that are requesting donations of money, items and volunteers is extensive. Included are the Northwest Florida Chapter of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity and most local churches. Please check the website for more developing information on ways to help.
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.