Meet your Grand Marshal: The Log's own Tina Harbuck is at the helm (PHOTOS)

Jenny McKeon
Where everybody knows her name: That’s the docks for Tina Harbuck, who has chronicled the catches of the day in Destin for decades.

After years of reporting on Destin's annual Christmas Parade, The Log's own Tina Harbuck will be leading it this Saturday morning.

Tina first came to Destin in November 1984, when she came to work at The Destin Log. In her 30 years as a Log reporter, she has been witness to most of the changes in the area.

"We weren't even a city yet," she said.

Tina grew up in Wewahitchka, just east of Panama City. She's an alumnus to Gulf Coast Community College and University of Alabama, where she studied journalism. She still continues to cheer her alma mater's Crimson Tide.

At The Log, Tina broadened the paper's sports coverage reporting on Little League games. She's a regular at school games for Destin and Walton County teams.

"What I like about sports reporting is that the seasons change," she said. "From football to basketball to baseball — and then fishing all year round. It doesn't get much better than that."

Tina's other home away from home is the fishing docks. She carries the torch of the fishing column from former Log reporter, Helen Wren.

"I kind of picked it up and ran with it," Tina said of her regular “Fish Flash” column. "I grew up fishing on the river and have learned a lot about fishing in the Gulf from the captains."

Being selected as the 2013 Grand Marshal is not the first honor Tina has received from the City of Destin. In 2008, commemorating her 25 years at The Log, former mayor Craig Barker proclaimed November 16 Tina Harbuck Day. She usually celebrates the day by working, she said with a laugh.

"My family and close friends have it marked on their calendar. They'll send me texts saying 'Happy Tina Harbuck Day,' " she said.

Beyond reporting, Tina has contributed to the community she lives and works in by coaching Little League, getting involved with her church and serving on both the Destin Fishing Rodeo and Fishing Museum boards. 

"I absolutely love Tina — I call her Teener," said Helen Donaldson, executive director of Destin Fishing Rodeo, Inc and chair of the parade committee, which chose the grand marshal.  "She is the most genuine person I think I have ever met.  Her passion for her work, her community, fishing, her belief, and I hate to say it… her school, is second to none. I've had the pleasure of knowing her for at least 25 years and I've never heard of or seen her say anything negative. She is a wonderful representative for Destin and deserves the title of grand marshal as much or more than anyone who has come before her in the same role."

Three decades into the job, Tina says her favorite part is still meeting new people. Some have become friends, and some she has watched grow up from Little League games to playing ball in college.

"I like that my job takes me outside," she said. "I consider myself very blessed to get to write about the kids — something for them to cut out and put in their memory book."

Tina interviewed Destin's first mayor Bob McIlroy, saw the grand opening of Highway 98 and countless developments come to fruition. But journalism is most gratifying for Tina when she gets to tell stories about inspirational people.

"One of my most humbling moments on the job was when I got to report on a double-amputee gentleman," she said. "He swims and does triathlons. Not only did he inspire me, but I was able to tell his story and touch other lives."

Tina said she was "blown away" when she was told she was chosen to lead the Christmas parade. She was busy at her desk at work when she got the call bearing good news.

"I've covered the parade for years, never thought that I would be one day leading it," she said. "I don't know how I even made the list, but I am honored."