As winter approaches, many friends from the north start making their way to the Panhandle to escape the cold.
To help these snowbirds find something to do while visiting the Emerald Coast, Walton County Snowbirds, a group that fosters friendships through activities, held its second registration meeting Monday at Faith Assembly Church Hall in Destin. Guests were invited to come socialize with members, register for $10 and sign up for different activity clubs.
"I do more down here in the winter time than I probably do at home, and meeting the same people again and again each year, it's just fantastic," said John Neighbors, an Indiana resident and snowbird for about six years.
Neighbors, a member of the tennis and golf clubs, said the variety of things offered within Walton County Snowbirds gives him and his wife an opportunity to do activities together while also catching up with old friends.
All club officials are volunteers, and there are around 30 different activities for members to register for, according to Karen Moosekian, the group's president.
Last year, she said more than 1,600 people joined the flock.
"You just make friends, (and) everybody's here to have a good time," Moosekian said.
Apart from the party, the group also donates between $10,000 and $15,000 to local charities, such Children in Crisis, and some members even volunteer their time around the community.
"When you come here for several months, you treat it like it's your home away from home," Moosekian said. She said she knows of about a dozen snowbirds who enjoyed their winter stays so much they made the Emerald Coast home.
The majority of members arrive in January and activities start the first week of the year and end the last week of February.
They include golf, tennis, senior aerobics, water aerobics, line dancing, ballroom dancing and yoga, which was added this year. The group also plans to take a trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, which costs an additional $20.
"Most everything is just volunteers, who are members of the club, so, the club runs the club," she said.