DESTIN SNOWBIRD CLUB: Registered members reach nearly 600 after Big Registration

Mary Pierce
Mary Pierce
Jackie Roberson (left), Ann Haley, and Becky Williamson sit behind the scene of the Big Registration as they prepare to enter membership data for the Destin Snowbird Club last Monday, Jan. 3.
A steady stream of registrants trickled through The Roost to sign up as members and learn about all the fun and exciting activities the Destin Snowbird Club had to offer
Two former past presidents, Ken Yee and George Olson, are reunited beyond the Pearly Gates and will be sadly missed by all the snowbirds who knew and loved them.

The anticipation for the Monday, Jan. 3 “Big Registration” had been extremely high. Would the COVID virus and its variants keep people away? Or would the fact that Florida is “open for business” draw a flock of newcomers? Early registrations had been down by about 100 members and the board of directors have prepared for a smaller than usual group. Dues were raised to insure coverage of such things as rent, insurance, and entertainment. Would the higher fees be a factor?

As it turned out, both the optimists and the pessimists were right – and wrong! There was no line “out the door” as in past years. No rash of registrants overwhelming the workers. There was, however, a constant and steady stream of people trickling through the Roost. Nearly 400 people registered, bringing the total number to almost 600 members.

Our optimistic past president George Olson would have been pleased. Sadly, George passed away on Dec. 23. He was elected to the board of directors in 2011, and

served as club president for the 2013/2014 season. He continued to volunteer in many ways every year thereafter.

“Everyone knew George,” club secretary Cindy Varnell said. “No matter where he went, people shouted, ‘Hi George!’ He sometimes felt bad because he didn’t know who they all were, but he had such a friendly face, everyone felt like he was their friend.”

Cindy and Ray Varnell are the chairs of both the T.G.I.T. (Thank Goodness it’s Tuesday) Parties, and the Holiday Boat Parade Party, but the batons for both events were passed on to them from George and his wife Barb.

“In 2011 the board initiated the T.G.I.T. parties, and George, who was second VP at the time, became chair," Cindy said. “He did everything from securing the place to delivering all the snacks and drinks and everything in between.”

Cindy and Ray, along with Pete and Diane Sikkenga, stepped in to help out and all have continued to hone the immensely popular event. “He was my mentor,” Cindy said. “He was patient and kind and very good at explaining what needed to be done and how to do it.”

George was also a member of the registration committee, the greeters committee, and the nomination committee. Is it any wonder that so many snowbirds felt a kinship with him? He, and his warm, friendly smile, will be sorely missed.

A few important reminders: Registration will take place at the Roost (Destin Community Center) on Monday, Jan.10, from 10 a.m. to noon. Tuesday’s meetings at 8:30 and 11 a.m.) will feature snowbird favorite David Hall. He is a singer whose repertoire knows no limits. He is also a master of the keyboards and an awesome guitarist.

Hall will also entertain us from 3 to 6 p.m. at Lulu’s, on Legendary Marina Drive, for the season’s first T.G.I.T. party. The cost is $5 at the door. Be sure to bring your membership badge to show at the door.

The Singles Friendship Club will meet for lunch at The Surf Hut, following Tuesday’s 11 a.m. meeting.

The first 18-hole golf outing will be Sunday, Jan. 16, at Regatta Bay. Contact Joe Pierce at snowbirdgolf@gmail.com for more information.

Storage lockers will be open for pick-up on Saturdays, Jan. 8, 15, and 22, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

As always, check the website, Thedestinsnowbirds.com, for more updated information.

Mary Pierce, publicity director, is from Toledo, Ohio, and can be reached at 419-250-9377 or destinsbclub.publicity@gmail.com. She will be writing the weekly column for the papers, so if you have something to share, contact her.