Something's 'fishy' about Destin Ice's new sign

Annie Blanks
The Destin Log
Bud Schweickert stands next to his creation, the 5 1/2-foot-long red snapper that sits atop the Destin Ice and Seafood Market sign, Friday after-noon. Schweickert, who is a huge fan of famous chef and television star An-thony Bourdain, carved the personality's face into the mouth of the snapper.

If you’ve been in Destin long enough, you’ve likely noticed the large red snapper sculpture that sits atop the Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli on U.S. Highway 98.

You also may have noticed that it’s recently disappeared.

Don’t worry though, the mini landmark has been taken by one of its original sculptors, Bud Schweickert, to his shop around the corner for a little much-needed TLC.

The iconic fish has been a Destin staple since it was first created by Schweickert and his friend Bob Decker 20 years ago. Over those two decades, the snapper has seen its fair share of wear and tear; hurricanes, sunshine and even vandals have caused the sculpture to lose its signature bright red sheen and detailed fins.

“The poor fish was in very, very bad shape,” said Eileen Schweickert, Bud’s sister.

Schweickert recently brought it to his workshop, Sailmark Designs, just around the corner on Azalea drive, where the local artist churns out all kinds of woodworking, oil paintings and even book covers.

He even designed the flag for Okaloosa County.

But for the past few weeks, Schweickert has been solely dedicated to refurbishing the snapper sculpture.

“I’ve been patching, filling, sanding, everything,” he said of the 5 1/2 foot long, hand-carved fish.

Another interesting addition to the sculpture: Schweickert has carved and painted the face of famous chef and television star Anthony Bourdain into the mouth of the snapper.

“I just thought it would be off,” he said with a chuckle, adding that Bourdain has no ties (yet) to Destin Ice and Seafood other than the fact that Schweickert himself is a huge fan.

“Bud is really into local food and trying to sustain our fisheries and resources,” Eileen said. “And Bourdain is into that kind of stuff, too. So it fits, sort of.”

When the newer, better sculpture returns to its home atop the Destin Ice Seafood Market and Deli sign Thursday, Schweickert said he hopes it’ll last another 20 years, if not longer.

“I have someone lined up, a young guy, to take care of this thing when I can’t anymore,” he said. “This sculpture is a very unique thing, maybe even a landmark, and if I have anything to say about it, it’ll be around when I’m long gone.”