SNOWBIRD NEWS: New Christmas memories for the snowbirds

Mary Pierce
Mary Pierce

It was what many snowbirds might call a “crisp” day for a parade, but locals said that it was just down-right cold. Still, the 40-something degree temperatures didn’t deter too many spectators from lining about two miles of Emerald Coast Parkway for the annual Destin Christmas Parade Dec. 9.

Destin Snowbird Club towed their giant decorated “Peace on Earth” sign to the parking lot of the Old Time Pottery strip mall to be one of more than 80 vehicles to process from there to the Destin Community Center. Nearly 20 snowbirds and one snowbird dog were bundled-up and ready to bestow colorful green, red, and gold beads to all the eager little outstretched hands along the way. This was the 10th anniversary of snowbird participation in the Destin Christmas Parade, and all are looking forward to many parades to come.

The patio of the Crab Island Cantina was all decked out with white lights, golden ornaments and red ribbons for the sell-out crowd of Destin Snowbird Club members who were there to watch the annual Christmas Boat Parade Dec. 10. After a delicious dinner of saucy meatballs, pasta, salad and cheesecake, everyone turned their attention to the harbor to watch boats of all shapes and sizes float by slowly displaying their creative holiday decorations.

A crowd favorite was the beautifully lit Southern Star, host boat of the snowbirds three 2018 Harbor Party Cruises on Jan. 29, Feb. 5 and Feb. 12. A dazzling display of fireworks put a perfect ending on a successful evening that was flawlessly planned by chairpersons Cindy and Ray Varnell. This early-season event has been on the snowbird schedule for 10 years and has become a cherished tradition.

Nothing gets in the way of Destin snowbirds looking to have a good time. When there weren’t enough members signed up to fill a bus for the Dec. 11, excursion to Wind Creek in Atmore, Alabama, the casino sent two very comfortable complimentary shuttles for the 20 who did sign up. Organizer Don Cooksey was able to refund everyone’s bus money yet the free play and food vouchers were still available. Everyone had a great time enjoying the good food and admiring all the beautiful Christmas decorations and some even played a slot machine or two. Don said he will consider adding a repeat visit soon.

Tuesday, Dec. 12, may have been the last Destin Snowbird meeting of 2017, but it certainly wasn’t the least. Nancy Thiele, director of the Emerald Coast Community Band, filled the Destin Community Center with the merriment that her musicians bring every Christmas season. What appeared to be a full-sized orchestra was, according to Thiele, only a small portion of what the group will become when the snowbird season is at full capacity. She anticipates about 350 members and issued an invitation for any musicians in attendance to join. Her guest conductor, Paul Harris, has been a part of Destin’s musical community since 1979, working predominantly with the school children in the area. Our National Anthems’ singer, Tim Braden from New York, stepped on stage to lead the snowbirds in a joyful recital of Christmas carols.

For more information on upcoming events and activities, check the website at

Mary Pierce, publicity director, is from Toledo, Ohio, and can be reached at 419-250-9377 or She will be writing the weekly column for the papers, so if you have something to share contact her.