Fear floats? Paddle Destin in disguise

Jessica Coker
From left, Buddy Goldsmith, Lisa Goldsmith, Serra Abel and Gregg Abel before the paddle begins. "We are three peaceful jellyfish and Gregg is one man of war," teases Buddy.

It's not everyday that you see more than 100 people paddle boarding while dressed in a variety of Halloween costumes — everything from jellyfish and sharks to the Wicked Witch of the West. But for anyone driving across the Cinco Bayou Bridge in Fort Walton Beach the morning of Saturday Oct. 20, that's exactly what they saw. Paddle Destin hosted their first annual "Great Pumpkin Paddle" last weekend at Scully's on the Bayou. Judging by the smiles on the faces of the masks and the paddlers alike, the overall consensus seemed to be a smashing success. "The Great Pumpkin Paddle was our first event and we decided that we would donate raffle proceeds to one of our local charities, Shelter House," said Kim Moore, the founder of Paddle Destin. Moore said with everyone’s support they were able to raise $1,340 for the local shelter that provides refuge for battered women and children. The day had something for everyone — a pumpkin carving contest, a costume contest, a DJ and of course plenty of paddling. "Lots of creativity went into the costumes this year and next year is going to be even better," said Moore. The first place winner was Stefan Haluska who came dressed as the "Orca," the iconic boat from "Jaws," second place went to Melody Ray as the Mad Hatter and third place was awarded to Jim Cunningham who came dressed as a Regina look a like. Regina is a friend of the Paddle Destin family, who is known for paddling in dresses and crazy hats because she often comes to the events right after work. Special mentions were awarded to Dale Ringler for his two-faced joker costume and Michelle Funderburk for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West. Funderburk said she chose the costume because of the irony of the water and because she could easily turn her paddle into a broom. "I don't plan to fall, but if I do, I'll be dramatic and pretend I'm melting," said Funderburk. The motto of Paddle Destin is "We don't care what you paddle as long as you enjoy the ride", a fitting sentiment to Saturday's pre-Halloween fun-on-the-water.