A 13-year member of the group said a tight-knit community was a driving factor in what keeps bringing Snowbirds back to the Gulf Coast.

SANTA ROSA BEACH — The membership of this year’s Walton County Snowbirds Club is expected to grow by more than 500 new members within the next week.


As of Jan. 2, after only one registration, the flock already had about 220 members, said Karen Moosekian, a past president.


As a 13-year member, the Michigan resident believed the group’s tight-knit community was a driving factor in what brings snowbirds back to the Gulf Coast.


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"One of the things that amazes me is when people see each other for the first time (each season)," said Moosekian said, who added 2020 marked the group’s 30th year. "It’s joyful to see that kind of year-after-year friendships ... that continue only down here.


"People come from so many places, and the common denominator is (Walton County)," she added.


Unique to this year are concerns for the future of the group’s golf club. Moosekian said this was stirred by the uncertainty surrounding the Golf Garden purchase.


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"We’re going to have to come to a decision to either not offer golf, or try and find another facility that would be able to help," she said.


Moosekian added that there was also a need for younger members to step up and help lead the flock.


"Most of the Snowbirds that are involved, like myself, have been involved for 10 years or more," she said. "We started out when we were young Snowbirds and now ... we’re not exactly young Snowbirds anymore."


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Looking ahead, she expected this year to be promising. Along with a chance to escape harsh northern winters, the Walton County Snowbirds give old friends a chance to reconnect in a unique community.


"(I’ve) been to other places in Florida, and I honestly did not care for Florida that much (before), but when I came here .. it felt like home," Moosekian said.