DESTIN SNOWBIRD CLUB: Happy New Year to all

Mary Pierce
Walton Sun

The New Year is always an exciting time full of new resolutions and a fresh starts. For the Destin Snowbird Club, each New Year also brings a lot of fresh new faces. The stories behind how these new members found out about the club are both varied and interesting.

For example, Stephanie and Kent Hugelen of Minnesota were in a doctor’s office in Galveston, Texas where they had vacationed for the previous five years, when a nurse asked them if they had ever been to Destin. They hadn’t. She told them that if they ever saw how beautiful Destin was, they would never return to Texas. She was right.

When they got here they met a gentleman in their condo’s parking lot who welcomed them and suggested that they check out the area’s snowbird clubs. They did, and decided to join both the Destin and Walton County clubs. They are avid birdwatchers and hope to meet others who also appreciate “birding.” They enjoyed the Lighted Holiday Boat Parade with the Destin snowbirds and are looking forward to our Harbor Party Cruises.

Joan and Gary Wilson of Cape Cod, Mass., wanted to be near their daughter in Atlanta but also wanted to be near the ocean, so they settled in the Sandestin Resort of Miramar Beach. While at a church function, they met Don and Joan Collins. Don, the first vice-president of the Destin snowbird club, easily convinced them of all the benefits included with club membership. They are considering the Mardi-Gras trip to New Orleans, but are also looking forward to playing golf and dancing at events like the T.G.I.T. parties and the Valentine Dinner Dance.

Mike and Diane Shields of Massachusetts also wanted to be near their daughter who lives in New Orleans. They did some online research where they not only discovered the beauty of Destin, but also found information on the Destin Snowbird Club. They plan to sign up for bridge and pickleball among other activities.

Passing through Destin on their way to their Panama City Beach resort, where they had stayed the past five years, Jim and Pam Woodward of Tennessee decided that they would rather spend their winter vacations here. Two of the first friends they met, Ted and Vera Brecheisen of Kansas, told them that the Destin Snowbird Club was, “a lot of fun.” They joined and are looking forward to all the available activities including some possible casino trips. But most of all, they look forward to meeting more friendly folks like Ted and Vera.

It’s nice to know that our vendors are looking out for us. The bartender at the Back Porch Seafood and Oyster House suggested to Karl and Phyllis Stewart of Ohio that they look into the Destin Snowbird Club. They had come to Destin because they heard about the infamous emerald waters with the dazzling white sandy beaches. Now they are looking forward to joining the Euchre club and playing some pool. They are also planning to sign up for the Mardi-Gras trip to New Orleans.

Michael and Mary Ann Petrus of Michigan heard about the Destin Snowbird Club through their membership with the American Legion Post, a past snowbird vendor. They had moved to the area to be near their son, but as often happens, their son’s work took him back to Michigan. They decided to stay, however, and are looking forward to new friendships, golf outings, an evening or two on the Harbor Party Cruises, and perhaps the Mardi-Gras trip.

Some new snowbird members, like Eddie and Mary Seay of Kentucky, have been coming to this area for years (25 years in the Seays’ case), but have only recently learned of all the benefits included with snowbird membership such as tennis and pickleball leagues.

Besides new people, many favorite activities will be starting anew.

The first Nine & Wine & Whine will be Saturday, Jan. 11, with a 2:30 p.m. shotgun start at Shalimar Pointe. Anyone interested in playing can email

The first Singles Friendship Club luncheon will take place at Miller’s Ale House following Tuesday’s 11 a.m. snowbird meeting.

Storage lockers will be accessible on Monday, Jan. 6, from 2 to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays, Jan. 4, 11 and 18 from 8 to 9 a.m.

Our registration chairperson, Linda Zukonic, wants to remind everyone that the first registration of the year, the BIG registration, will be Monday, Jan. 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Destin Community Center on Stahlman Avenue. The $8 fee can be paid in US dollars or by US checks payable to the Destin Snowbird Club. The first meeting of the year will be at the Destin Community Center on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 8:30 a.m. and then again at 11 a.m.

Important reminder: Unlike past years, there will be NO Tuesday morning registrations.

For all other activity times, places and contact information, please check the website at

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