Travel website Daring Planet recently put out its list of the Top 10 Snowbird communities in the United States that are complained about the most on social media, with seven of those in Florida, but none in Northwest Florida.
DESTIN — Travel website Daring Planet didn't set out to have any specific type of discussion or form any specific narrative about snowbird communities-retirees who head to warmer climates for the winter months.
They just wanted to see what people were saying on social media when they did bring snowbirds into the discussion, tracking over 25,000 geotagged tweets over the last month.
The results weren't great. Daring Planet's study found that the tweets were primarily complaints about snowbirds in specific communities and they were able to make a list of the Top 10 cities that complain about snowbirds the most.
Seven of the cities were in Florida – No. 1 Tampa, No. 4 Sarasota, No. 5 Orlando, No. 7 Clearwater, No. 8 Ft. Lauderdale, No. 9 St. Petersburg and No. 10 Miami.
Not making the list? The Destin Snowbirds or the Walton County Snowbirds, two organizations with approximately 2,000 members each.
"I think a number of reasons factor into that," said Destin Snowbirds President Ted Spring. "Number one is that we've been around for a long time ... I think it's 46 or 47 years that we've been in the community. Number two is that we're really well-organized and we have a strong board of directors that oversee snowbirds.
"Many of them have been on the board for quite a long time. They're familiar with the communities we serve and the communities are familiar with them."
It's hard to imagine any of the communities that made the list — three cities in Arizona rounded out the Top 10 — getting the reception the Destin Snowbirds got last month when they had their official "Opening of the Roost" ceremony at the Destin Community Center.
That was replete with a ribbon-cutting and local dignitaries, including Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis coming out to welcome them.
"I think part of it is there's kind of a mutual admiration society between us and the community," said Destin Snowbirds Publicity Director Mary Pierce. "We get so many great offers from businesses in the community and we do our part to help find nonprofits and ways to give back that it really works well.
"The community here also seems to be used to groups coming in waves. We come, spring breakers come, the summer season hits ... so there's never really a break for them."
Destin and Walton County actually registered in Daring Planet's study, just not in a bad way. On a map identifying spots where snowbird discussions were taking place across the country on social media, the Florida Panhandle had a big signature but it wasn't tagged with the red/yellow warning colors like other locations, where complaints against snowbirds centered mainly on increased/worse traffic patterns and local residents who felt restaurants and other businesses were overwhelmed by the increase in visitors.
In Destin, it's much the opposite. Spring said that in the last two years, the Destin Snowbirds have given away approximately 4,000 door prizes at its twice-weekly and weekly meetings. That equates to just over $60,000 in actual money.
"I do know that when you have repeat vendors who support you year after year, that indicates a pretty good relationship," Spring said. "It shows we support them and they support us, so we must be doing something right in that regard."