The snowbirds are again flocking to South Walton, and they already have a one-up on last year.



Last year, 165 snowbirds signed up at the first registration, and this year, the number was 166 at Monday’s registration at Faith Assembly on S. Geronimo Street in Miramar Beach.



Past President Bonnie Schwichtenberg hopes this is a sign that numbers will surpass last year’s registration, which exceeded 1,800 for the season.



Bonnie said it is great to see the snowbird registration up in Walton County, as other organizations elsewhere are seeing a decline in numbers.



“All of them are declining, some due to economic downturn, some due to demographics of who can afford to come. As mature seniors get older, some of them stop,” said Bonnie, who says the majority are younger than 70 years old.



Her husband, Tom, who is the current president, believes it is a sign that numbers will be good. But he is just excited for the activities to start and to see old friends.



“It is just so much fun that the snowbirds are returning,” said Tom.



Bonnie hopes the decline in registration won’t hit Walton County, and the wide range of activities should be enough to entice these birds to come and sign-up.



Snowbirds will have the opportunity to sign up the activities ranging from Zumba and computers clubs to Pilates, music appreciation, and book discussion clubs. Favorites Mah Jongg and euchre are also on the schedule.



“We are more active than any Snowbird club along the Gulf Coast,” she said. “We have almost 40 different activities … a lot of them don’t involve sitting.”



Bonnie predicted that, as in years past, the Snowbird Singles group, as well as the two golf leagues, would be the most popular. But options are nearly endless for a registration fee of $9.



In addition to a myriad of activities, monthly meetings are not to be missed, according to President Tom.



“We’ll have entertainment … then we’ll have a great drawing and a raffle,” said Tom. Vendors who support the snowbirds will be on hand to share information about special promotions and about their companies. 



Meetings will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 12, Jan. 9, and Feb. 13 at Destin United Methodist Church, 200 Beach Drive. The meeting March 6 will be held at Santa Rosa Beach Community Church, 3524 Highway 98 West.



This is just the beginning of the season for snowbirds, with the northern-dwellers starting to descend on the Gulf Coast in November, followed by the larger population traveling down after the holidays. 



Around the first of the year, license plates around South Walton are a pretty good indication that the snowbirds season is in full swing.



“It seems like every car you see on 98 will be an out-of-state car,” he said.



The Schwichtenbergs, who have been coming for nine years from St. Cloud, Minn., will have an open house Jan. 1 to welcome new snowbirds and “touch base with people we haven’t seen in a long time.”



Future registrations will be held 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Faith Assembly Dec. 3, 10, 17; Jan. 2, 7, 17, 21, 28; and Feb. 4, 11. For those who would like to get more involved, by means of hosting a group, or acting in one of the open positions as vice president or treasurer of the organization, call President Tom Schwichtenberg at 650-5255 or email him at tswitz@cloudnet.com. Visit Waltoncountysnowbirds.com for more general information.