As snowbirds begin the process of packing for the return trip to northern snowy climes, each of us will have something more important than clothing and seaside memorabilia to store away — indeed, we will have memories enough to fill our car trunks to the brim.

Maybe it will include a painting finished while attending the art workshops headed by Debra Bailey and Betty Swenson, or a memoir crafted in the creative writing sessions guided by Debra Wynn and Carole Zoller, or that cool birdhouse made in Mazie People’s craft group. These, we will remember.

Maybe you left something behind like some pounds whittled away in one of Sarah Vaillancourt’s aerobics sessions or during line dancing instructed by Julie Flynn, Diane Likhite and Sarah Vaillancourt, or maybe you tried your hand (make that feet) at ballroom dancing under the patient direction of Len and Janet Hoover and Dave and Gail Tudman. If you didn’t melt a few pounds on the dance floor, maybe you joined John Stephens for a fast bike tour of the area, or worked to improve your delivery at Hurricane Lanes bowling alley hosted by Mike and Joan Dougal and Don McIntosh.

Surely, you will recall from time to time the flush of victory on the basketball or pickleball courts led by Chris Gray, Tim Gordon and Bill Hutchinson. Not so? Then maybe you will remember one of those terrific serves on the tennis court in those weekly matches overseen by Joe Wolschlag, or a hole-in-one at the Golf Garden, of which there were three this season. Maybe you snapped a few photos to remember the great time had by all at the combined President’s Cup and Women’s Charity Scramble or the annual Snowbird Cup in which golfers from the Walton County Snowbirds and Destin Snowbird Club competed. Remember, too, all those hardworking golf volunteers who make it possible: Bob Benham, Helen Blair, Roberta Crawford, Bill Neidel, Ken Noble, Bob Swenson, Marilyn Peavoy, and Ruth Towns.

Perhaps you raised your voice in song with the Snowbird Singers led by Adele Armitage or enjoyed the friendly companionship offered by the singles group led by Eileen Anderson, or gained some new experience in the form of yoga brought to us this year by Kathleen Caught. David Ott’s music series once again brought pleasure and enlightenment to those of us who attended his weekly performances. We learned a few tricks at the Computer Club gatherings, too, thanks to Ken Lamire. Maybe you pitched in at Peggy Breetz’s blood drive, always a worthwhile activity. Memories aplenty, that’s for sure!

Social opportunities filled our calendars. The Biloxi bus trips organized by Gary and Sharon Pinylo added a bit of spice for our memories, as did all those cards and games organized by Ron Bird, Bob and Liz Lee, Sharon McIntosh, Carol Staiger, and Tammy Stelling! Bridge, euchre, hand and foot, mah jongg, and poker were enough to keep a snowbird busy Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout the season. These we will remember!

Our social activity included two groups that raised our consciousness — a discussion group headed by Jane Barnsteiner and Joanne Disch and a book discussion group organized by Pat Weigle. The two social evenings at Fudpucker's hosted by Gary and Sharon Pinylo may have led to new friendships. A dolphin cruise organized by Pat Whitledge, Jean Weber and Jane Chadderdon, a senior citizens prom sponsored by the South Walton's Student Government Association, and the annual Ladies Luncheon organized by Susan Newell and Donna Reed built fond memories among old friends and new acquaintances alike.

The best news of all is that we can return to the Emerald Coast next year and, once again surrounded by kindred spirits, do it all again. Until then, as Bob Hope often said, "Thanks for the memories."

Tom Mahar writes for the Walton County Snowbirds. Reach him at