Let the Games Begin: Senior Olympics Coming to Destin

Savannah Vasquez | The Log
Members of Destin’s Snowbird Club compete in various sports during the winter months and will now have the opportunity to join local seniors in the first Destin-Emerald Coast Senior Olympic Games to be held in February.

For the first time ever, the city of Destin will host qualifiers for the National Senior Games Association with a local competition called the Destin-Emerald Coast Senior Olympic Games. The competition is open to locals and visitors alike aged 50 and above and will feature 14 games including bag toss, basketball free throw, basketball spot shooting, billiards, bowling, darts, golf, horseshoes, pickleball, shuffleboard, table tennis, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

“This is the first time it has been in this part of the Emerald Coast,” said Pat Markey, city coordinator for seniors recreation. “Pensacola and Tallahassee have it, but this is the first  time we will host one in Destin.”

Markey said that the games have been going on for many years and lead up to an annual state competition and then the bi-yearly national games.

“Some of our locals went to Pensacola last year and then played in the state games and did quite well,” Markey said when asked what sparked the idea to localize the event. “I contacted the state people, went to Clearwater, and learned all about it and signed us up.”

Markey explained that the winners from the local qualifiers will move on the state-wide competition to be held in Clearwater in December, but as this year is an off year, there will be no national competition.

However, as the first year to host the games, Markey sees this year not only as an opportunity to kick-start into next year, but also as a chance to invite winter visitors to join in on the fun.

 “This year we will get not only locals but snowbirds involved so we’re hoping for about 400 people,” he said. “I know that’s a big expectation for the first year event, but we are hoping to get a lot of people involved.” 

When asked what sports Destin will be strongest in, Markey named two local favorites.

“I think golf and pickleball will be our biggest events,” he said. “I’m also hoping for a good turnout in track and bowling.”

The Destin-Emerald Coast Senior Olympic Games is scheduled to span from February 6 to 28 with registration for the games required four days prior to each event. The cost is $10 for the first event and $5 for each additional event. Registration forms can be obtained at the Destin Community Center or online at under the tab Parks and Recreation sub tab Seniors. For more information call 654-5184.