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Volume XVI • Issue XII

events 13 Bourbon at the Bay 17 Moonlight Cabaret 24 Fall Golf Tournament 36 Annual Golf Charity 38 Harvest Wine & Food Festival 42 Destin Fishing Rodeo 45 Military & Veterans Appreciation Lunch 51 Healing Paws for Warriors 54 Emerald Coast Honor Games 61 Strategic Partner Appreciation 65 A “Frilling” Meet-N-Greet with Brittany Young 66 Business Before Hours 68 A Night with the Stars 71 8th Annual Fall Wine Walkabout

departments 21 40 48 56 59 62 70 74

Adventure Out Save the Date Swizzle Give Care Share May We Suggest Destin Style Locale I Am Destin

features 27 Health & Beauty Learn about some of our area’s most successful health and beauty providers.

VIP Destin Magazine Staff

on the cover Stephanie & George Brannon

Photography by Zhalman Harris at Moonlight Cabaret

Publisher Greg Alexander

Graphic Designer Kayla Burleson

Associate Publisher Verla Price

Contributing Writers/ Photographers Greg Alexander Zhalman Harris Shanna Magnuson Verla Price Anna Stockton Jeff Watson

Editor Jeff Watson Advertising Verla Price Jeff Waton Publisher’s Assistant Anna Stockton Senior Designer Priscilla Atkins

VIP Founder Jeff Watson

December 2020 | 9

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letter from the Associate Publisher Season’s greetings and welcome to 2020’s final issue of VIP Destin Magazine. It has been a year that has tried my patience, challenged my creativity, and showed me that we could endure more than was imaginable. Although it will become an infamous year in history, 2020 is a year I am happy to see in my rearview mirror. People faced different obstacles this year and everyone made changes to survive. VIP’s most significant barrier was producing an entertaining social magazine for our readers while adhering to the new social distancing rules that made local gatherings extinct for some months. How did we accomplish this task? With the help of good friends, advertisers, and old-fashioned ingenuity. These circumstances forced us to brainstorm different content for the magazine. Advertisers submitted photos, employees and friends carried cameras everywhere, snapping pictures of people in daily activities. We started with images of people working, shopping, golfing, boating, and children playing. The creative juices started flowing, and the shutters kept snapping as people learned to adapt and VIP Destin captured those changes as our pages quickly fi lled. We added new features, we covered Zoom meetings, and printed throwback pages of our favorite events from years past and the feedback was amazing. Thank you all for your kind words and for allowing us to help share the fun things that were happening. Suddenly the fear of surviving turned to the pride of embracing a paradigm shift to produce a social magazine, although different but still the same, fi lled with people enjoying life. I hope you found our new editorial approach entertaining and enjoyable to read. Some of it will stick as we continue covering the events you love, and an even better editorial product will be the result. Although we kept our employees working remotely and never had to lay anyone off, we had a couple of employees who had been key to our operations leave for other opportunities – and as usual through a tough transition, you almost always end up better on the other side. In this issue, enjoy seeing some of the wonderful events that were able to take place with clever social distancing measures in place. Also, fl ip over to our Health and Beauty feature with information and insight into some of the area’s most dedicated providers. Destin Style on page 62 provides insight into styling your home for the holidays including current trends from colors, to natural elements, to old school dècor. Continuing the holiday spirit, Swizzle introduces ways to make your holiday drinks lighter by using liquors that have fewer calories. In closing this issue and 2020, I would like to acknowledge the first responders who worked diligently amid chaos. I salute the health care workers who, daily, faced that which kept people in lockdown and fear. I praise the business owners who managed to pivot and stay open in an economy full of distress. To those less fortunate, please know that we miss you, and we are here to help you make a comeback. In 2020 we endured lockdowns, closures, COVID, and were lucky enough to dodge three hurricanes in Destin. As we look to 2021, I feel confident we will dodge every dart thrown at us, and together we will all thrive. Thank YOU for supporting VIP Destin; please be kind, courteous, and shop local.

Associate Publisher 10


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VIP Destin at Legendary Marine

Bourbon at the Bay photos & story by Zhalman Harris


uring a time where rules of gathering and social distancing are the norm, Legendary Marine in Destin was the perfect place to host the 8th Annual Bourbon at the Bay event to give guests ample space to enjoy themselves while keeping a safe distance from each other. The event, which was presented by Hand Arendall Harrison Sale on November 19, gave many bourbon lovers the opportunity to kick off their shopping for the holiday season a little early. Guests had the opportunity to sample bourbon, scotch, and champagne on the BOTE and Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village tasting tables, and bid on their choice of gifts, trips, and more in the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center silent auction. Attendees also tried their luck in the Destin Commons Wine Pull and enjoyed delicious treats at The Blake at Miramar Beach food and dessert tables. Some guests visited the Somerby Santa Rosa Beach Bar to explore more cocktails, while others tried the Melting Pot’s Bourbon Infused fondue. Those with VIP tickets had a grand experience in the Beach Liquors VIP Room. “They sure made this event a success,” said Dion Moniz of Hand Arendall Harrison, in appreciation of the close to 20 sponsors whose generosity made the event a success. “With sponsors ranging from presenting sponsor, location sponsor, to parting gift and media sponsor, their involvement with this event surely made it a hit,” he continued.

Scott Cunningham, Bill McKissick, Bob Peavler & Becca Bonner

Nick & Cassy DeJulio

Denise & Steve Baxter

Jennifer & Matt Cooper

Leslie Moland & Neal Kelly

Denise & Ed Kendust, Teresa & Bob Halverson, Marcia Hull December 2020 | 13

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VIP Destin at Bourbon Event Location at the Bay

Jeff Owen, Emily Buckley, Brittany Bryd & Hector Gonzalez

Christine Fox & Mark Hall

Jason & Desiree Hall, Tera & Brian Keister

Delores & Lockwood Wernet

Julie & Les Porterfield

Justin & Elizabeth Eulberg 14

Jeff & Sue Welch

Shane Moody, Lori Smith, Debbie Bodenstein & Christine Fox


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Trevor & Lane Redding, Clayton Hicks

Ken Whidden, Whitney & JD Whidden

MAKE YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON SPARKLE Young Kim, Verla Price & Mike Johnson

Book Your Appointment Today 34940 Emerald Coast Pkwy Suite 108 Near Best Buy and Michaels in Destin

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VIP Destin at the Lawn at Bijoux Destin

Moоlight Cabaret featuring


Morgan James

photos & story by Zhalman Harris

he spotlight shined brightly on the Sinfonia stage once again with the return of soul songstress, Morgan James performing hits from the Broadway stage to Berry Gordy, Jr. The event, dubbed “Moonlight Cabaret,” which was presented by Pish Posh Patchouli’s and SETCO Services, was held on the lawn of Bijoux Destin, flaunting an elegant clear-top, open-sided tent with hanging chandeliers, giving guests an incredible ambiance. The evening included a sparkling wine reception, four-course meal prepared by Bijoux Executive Chef/Owner Jack McGuckin, wine, and all gratuities. The act of the evening was Morgan James, an American singer, songwriter, and actress, who has appeared in numerous Broadway shows, including Motown: The Musical, Godspell, and The Addams Family. James is also well known for her numerous musical collaborations with the Jazz Collective. Her first studio album, Hunter, was released by Epic Records in November 2014. James has released multiple studio albums and maintains millions of views on her digital music platforms. The Wall Street Journal heralds her as, “The most promising young vocalist to come along so far this century.” Sinfonia Gulf Coast is committed to entertaining, educating, and inspiring the community through imaginative and innovative musical programming. Our goal is to enrich and expand the traditional orchestral experience through unique artistic disciplines and collaborations, enhancing Northwest Florida’s cultural vitality.

Gwendolyn Vercher & John Choquer

Amy & John Tate

Stephanie & George Brannon

Morgan James

Cindy & Jeff Garrard December 2020 | 17

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VIP Destin at Moonlight Cabaret

Sally & Bob Thiede

Jack & Candis Wilson

Scott Russell, Sheri Pixley & JR Blankenship

Wade Cotton & Bridgett Hall

Anne Hinze, Demetrius Fuller & Beth Clavier 18

Demetrius Fuller & Morgan James

Chris Abbott, Hannah Martin & Christina Abbott

Kevin & Morag Rosa

Wayne Paul & Susan Kiley

Alex & Jerry Brown, Crawford Sandefur & Jerry Lancaster


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Debbie & Paul Hunter, Jeff Dannelly

Maureen & Keith Gamble, Cindy Cole & Donna Rainwater

Elizabeth Eulberg, Whitney Lee & Morgan Meszaros

Tim & Jennifer Creehan December 2020 | 19

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SAVOR THE CLASSIC & SOPHISTICATED One of the finest dining destinations along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood features an award-winning 600-label wine list, hand selected prime steaks and Gulf-to-table seafood dishes. With fresh, seasonally inspired ingredients, Seagar’s prides itself on providing the most decadent and indulgent meals. The Emerald Coast’s only AAA Four-Diamond Steakhouse RESERVATIONS 850-622-1500 | 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 |

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Since 2000

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Winterfest 2020 Style R

story by Greg Alexander

anked as one of the top holiday events in the state, Pensacola Winterfest takes you on a journey that would give even the Grinch the fuzzy holiday feels. Winterfest transforms the historic Seville Square area into a magical land with all the holiday wonders of winter.

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As with all things, 2020 is bringing some edits to the celebration. The Winterfest Elves have been scurrying for months to create an experienc experience that will not sacrifice beautiful memories and holiday fun while offering healthy, safe, and socially distanced experiences. This year, families can choose between two show options. The Polar Express Tour with tap dancing hot chocolate servers or the Cajun Christmas where Louisianastyle celebrations, food, games, and fun prevail. The magical Polar Express tour is an immersion on a life-size steam engine visiting everyone’s favorite characters from the story. All on board will receive hot chocolate for the ride along this open-air tram with musical performances taking place outside the tram, giving everyone a perfect view. Capacities will be limited so dress warmly for each 20-minute tour where masks will be required for all. If that’s not enough, come ready for bed as pajamas are welcomed with prizes for those wearing the most festive ones. For a different experience, try the brand-new Cajun Christmas. The moment you enter Plaza Wonderland on Palafox Place, snow begins to fall and bells begin to ring at the opening show on the courthouse steps. Then board the tram with a delightful guide celebrating bayou style during the short ride to the Historic Village where Papa Noel, the Cajun Santa, will read The Cajun Night Before Christmas. After the story, fun continues with options to wander in the Museum of Industry, participate in a scavenger hunt, and dance with Papa Noel’s alligator team to tunes of a live jug band. Oh, and don’t miss out on the gumbo! Stay as long as you like but capacities on trolleys are limited every 30 minutes.

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This year’s Santa experience is even better, but with a new 2020 twist. His sleigh has been tricked out to allow social distancing. You will be guided to meet one of Santa’s elves, who will be there with a list, asking children- and even parents!- what they want for Christmas. The elf will guide your whole family to sit just outside of Santa’s sleigh, atop presents. The new setting will allow a safe distance between families and Santa, while still providing the intimate memory. Santa will read your Christmas wishes aloud with you before striking a pose to take photographs (you’ll even be allowed to take off your masks for this quick professional

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photoshoot). Most interesting, there will be no queues as a reservation system has been put into place. Reservations can be made online, or assigned at the location (arrive 5-10 minutes early to your reservation and check in at the photo table). It took a pandemic for us to realize there was a way to take your kids to see Santa without standing in line. And of course, Santa’s favorite nemesis, The Grinch, will also be available for photo opportunities where you can also reserve your photo op online or in person. Even the Grinch will be carefully practicing social distancing with his set designed for great photos and guest safety. After your photo purchase, you will be led to the Grinch’s throne, located behind Santa’s sleigh. While he LOATHES visitors, the Grinch will reluctantly allow you to intrude upon his solitude and sit on top of a few trashcan seats for a photo. He likes to ask children what they don’t want for Christmas! Be careful, Mr. Grinch has some tricks up his sleeve.

With all of this new fun in store, attendees will not even notice that the Elf Parade, Fireworks Display, and Traditional Performance tours have been taken out of the lineup in attempts to enhance health and safety. Additional cleaning measures by staff and mask requirements for all will add to the safety of everyone who attends. Santa has even recruited Thing 1 and Thing 2 as safety checkers around the Christmas Plaza. They are very excited to help guests play this new game called “social distancing” and to add some fun to these new guidelines.

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Check out all you need to know about Winterfest, including dates, costs, parking, and times at Visits with Santa and all tours will take place on December 5, 11, and 18 -24.

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VIP Destin at Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club


Annual Fall Golf Classic photos & story by Zhalman Harris


he Walton Area Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Fall Golf Classic, at Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club on November 12. This year’s tournament featured all the great perks the teams were used to, plus a few new unforgettable additions. Participants were offered chances to win prizes for course events such as hole in ones, and others. Fabulous prizes such as Chick-fil-A for a year sponsored by Chickfil-A, a new Ford Mustang provided by SERVPRO of N. Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, and Washington Counties, and Gary Smith Ford. Walton Area Chamber President and CEO Megan Harrison welcomed the participants and thanked all of the participating sponsors for being a part of the success of such an amazing event. Ms. Gabby Kilgore-Woods who was the event coordinator noted, “We had a great day, and we are looking forward to next year’s spring and fall Classic.”


Austin Phelps & Lance Youngblood

Keith LaPine & Bill Leech

Mark Wendel & Jennifer Dodge

Hannah Green & Laura Andrews

Todd Turley, Megan Harrison, Bryce Jarvis, Todd Royall, Bob Peavler, Laura Jansone & Mark Hotze


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Laura Jansone & Travis Roberts

Marianne Ireland & Ginny Richerson

Chip Jeffcoat & Jared Hall

Christie Solomon & Jason Salinas

Harper Roem & Justin Phelps

Bryce Rainer & Hunter Harmon

Ashley Roeam & Mark Hotze

Tori Hughes

Christie Barton & Loresa Smith

Sarah Stewart, Kean Vonada & Allison Smith December 2020 | 25

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Joy to you & me PURCHASE A




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Health & Beauty W

ith a year like 2020, health and wellness has been on top of everyone’s mind. Having a healthy body and lifestyle enhances one’s natural beauty. Our area is known for its beautiful nature with stunning views and scenery which inspires excellence with mind and body. The people who live and travel to our area expect nothing less than the best when it comes to care for themselves and their loved ones. With health and outward appearance held in such high regard, the medical and beauty industries in the area are succeeding at meeting the demands as they continue setting up new practices and carrying on with the older ones to provide a level of care that could rival much larger cities. Destin has made a splash by attracting industry leaders in specialized medicine as well as many dentists, aestheticians, plastic surgeons, dermatology experts, and other providers in the healthcare community who offer expertise to patients entrusting themselves to their care. Living in Destin is, indeed, beautiful and the health care providers, wellness coaches, and beauty experts help keep our lives beautiful and vibrant. You will find some experts in various health and beauty fields in our pages and we hope you reach out to them for care.

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he story of Bay Foot and Ankle Center began in 2016 when Dr.Francia Squatrito, DPM, established the podiatry practice in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The practice was founded with the purpose of serving the community with all of its podiatry needs, from basic foot issues to complicated surgeries. Dr. Squatrito’s vision for the practice was to bring the highest quality foot and ankle care to their patients by practicing evidence based medicine. The Doctor and her professional staff work diligently each day to continue their mission of providing a positive and welcoming environment where every patient can have a pleasant experience. The primary focus of their practice is centered around the wellbeing of their patients. Bay Foot and Ankle Center serves Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa, and Walton County with the most advanced care in Podiatry. Dr. Squatrito is supported by an eager group of medical professionals ready to meet the needs of every patient and she is proud to be the only female podiatrist serving our community. Dr. Francia T. Squatrito, DPM is the president and founder of Bay Foot and Ankle Center. She graduated medical school at Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine. She completed a rigorous surgical residency program at Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Mercy Regional Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. This rigorous threeyear surgical training provided Dr.Squatrito with the basis to treat some of the most complex foot and ankle problems. She is a member and a Board Certified fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Patients are treated with state of the art technology including digital X-Ray imaging and non-invasive vascular testing, all which are available onsite. She is also part of the medical staff at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast. Dr. Squatrito was recently certified by the American Board of Wound Management (ABWM) as a CWSP®. This is an important accomplishment achieved through hours of hard work in preparation for the CWSP® Examination. Dr. Squatrito volunteers and participates as a surgical team member for medical missions to the underserved country of Honduras, which focuses on reconstructive surgery of patients in need. Dr. Squatrito, her husband, and two sons are proud to call the Gulf Coast area their home.

Open Monday - Friday 7AM | Call Today to Make an Appointment at 850-855-4048 1775 Lewis Turner Blvd. • Fort Walton Beach (close to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center) More information is available at 28


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D r. S a n d p ro H e r a

q u a tr ito s p e c ia r e a r fo o t m e d ic c e d u re s fo r th e re a s o f tre a tm e in c lu d

liz e s in a l a n d e n tir e n t a n d e :

fo s u fa s p

re fo o t r g ic a l m ily . e c ia lty

• Bunion and Hammertoe Surgery • Arthritis • Ankle Sprains • Fractures • Tendon and Ligament Reconstruction • Plantar Fasciitis • Heel Spur Syndrome • Achilles Tendinitis • Adult and Pediatric flatfoot • Lateral Ankle Instability • Diabetic Foot Care • Ingrown Toenails and Nailcare • Warts • Wound care • Sports Injuries

Testimonials “I had the chance to repair my foot, and change the possible chances of life issues. Thanks to Dr. Squatrito, my foot should never have another problem” - Patient N.P.


“Dr. Squatrito is great about explaining her treatment plan and offering options. She’s very friendly, as is her staff, and I never feel rushed. All of my questions are answered before I leave the office each time” – patient C.M.

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r. Li-Ping Chew is grateful and excited to be a part of the Stubbs Orthodontics team! Her personal experience at her childhood orthodontist made a lasting impression, and since then, she has wanted to provide beautiful smiles to others for a lifetime. Dr. Chew graduated from the Mayo Clinic, where she was accepted as the only dentist in the nation for their three-year Stubbs Orthodontics program. She recently achieved her board 850.678.8338 Niceville & Miramar Beach certification as an orthodontist through the American Board of Orthodontics. Her education has allowed her to treat a multitude of orthodontic problems. As a military spouse, Dr. Chew has travelled all around the world. No matter the location, she engages with and enjoys serving in the community in which she lives. She is also passionate about international affairs and has recently travelled to Kenya and Rwanda to help train local dentists in orthodontics. Dr. Chew is married to her best friend from dental school, Matt Miller, who serves as a dentist at Hurlburt Air Force Base. They have one girl, Lucy, and enjoy life together. During her free time, Dr. Chew enjoys CrossFit and yoga, and teaches in the local community.



s a native of the Gulf Coast, Sara understands the importance of adequate sun protection and skin exams. First inspired to become a Physician Assistant by her father, a physician, Sara is devoted to providing comprehensive skin care for her patients, including general, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. She is a proud diplomat fellow of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. Sara is passionate about aesthetic dermatology and is experienced Coastal Skin Surgery & in injectables Dermatology like Juvederm®, 850.654.3376 Restylane®, and Botox® 12469 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Miramar Beach procedures. Using her artistic eye, she creates individualized plans for her patients to ensure the most natural and beautiful looking results. In her spare time, Sara can typically be found in her art studio painting or making pottery. She also enjoys spending time with her family and cockapoo named, Boris. Sara attended Lincoln Memorial University Physician Assistant Program in Harrogate, Tennessee. She earned her Master of Sciences in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida, as well as her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art.



ennis Lichorwic, DMD, values the power of a beautiful smile and believes in using minimally invasive techniques to create them. Dr. Dennis Lichorwic brought his ambitions to life when he opened his practice in Destin, FL in 1999. With great success over the years, Dr. Lichorwic was able to grow his practice not only in Destin, but to Panama City Beach in 2010 and to Navarre in 2021. He is ecstatic about opening the practice in Navarre, stating, “It has been an honor to serve the communities of Destin and Panama City Beach in all their dentistry needs. The love my team and I have for this business only elevates with time. As we grow, my team will continually strive to provide exceptional service and to exceed our patients’ expectations.” Not only is he excited to serve the community in their dentistry needs, but also in charitable donation stating, “It is a core value of our practice to be a leader and supporter in our community. We believe in giving back to the area where our team members live The Center For Cosmetic and and where our business thrives!” We look Family Dentistry forward to continuing to serve you in 2021 and in our newest Navarre branch. 850.654.8665

DENNIS LICHORWIC, DMD Destin & Panama CIty Beach



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olanda Martillo is the office manager at Bay Foot and Ankle Center, PA, and has been working with Dr. Francia Squatrito since the opening of her practice in February of 2016. Yolanda has been working in the medical field for the past 20 years in different specialties, from ophthalmology, allergy, and immunology to today in podiatry. The Army brought Yolanda and her family to this area from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where she built her career in the medical field and later received a bachelor’s in healthcare administration, and finally, in 2009, a master’s in business administration. She is passionate about the podiatry practice she and Dr. Squatrito have worked so hard to build and is looking forward to what their hard work will bring in the future. Bay Foot and Ankle Center has been a big challenge for Yolanda, both she and Dr. Squatrito opened the doors with the intention of providing the best podiatric care in the area, and so far, it has been a success. As an Army veteran, Yolanda feels proud to serve our military community Office Manager, Bay Foot and Ankle Center and works hard to provide all the patients of Bay foot and Ankle Center with the best 850.855.4048 possible care. 1775 Lewis Turner Blvd, Fort Walton Beach



DR. SONYA MORSE, DMP, AACFAS Bay Foot and Ankle Center 850.855.4048 1775 Lewis Turner Blvd, Fort Walton Beach


r. Sonya Morse is a surgical foot and ankle specialist trained in foot and ankle ailments. She is a graduate from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine and completed a comprehensive residency at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic and Mercy Regional Medical Center. Dr. Morse is excited to join Bay Foot and Ankle Center’s Dr. Francia Squatrito to continue to serve the community with the highest qualifications. Dr. Morse is an Associate of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. She is an avid equestrian and enjoys spending time outdoors as a loving horse owner.

r. Casi B. Stubbs grew up locally in DeFuniak Springs and opened her orthodontic practice on the Emerald Coast in July of 2008. She always knew she wanted to come back home after graduating from UF Dental School and completing her orthodontic residency at Nova Southeastern University, and she did just that. Dr. Stubbs’ treatment philosophy has always been focused on quality customer service and attention to detail with every patient treatment plan. Patient satisfaction comes first in everything she does Stubbs Orthodontics at Stubbs Orthodontics and her philosophy 850.678.8338 seems to be working, as Niceville & Miramar Beach she has been voted “Best Orthodontist” 5 times by different publications in our area including VIP Destin Magazine. Dr. Stubbs is fulfilling her dream of providing excellent orthodontic care and servicing the families of the Emerald Coast, who she considers family. With two convenient offices located in Niceville and Miramar Beach, Dr. Stubbs is available to see you for a free consultation to begin your orthodontic treatment and journey to a new smile.


Health & Beauty Profiles | 31

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VIP Destin at Indian Bayou Golf Club

Annual Golf Charity BENEFITING Habitat for Humanity photos & story by Zhalman Harris


he local chapter of Community Associations Institute held their annual Charity Golf Tournament to benefit Habitat for Humanity and educational scholarships for community association managers on October 30 at the Indian Bayou Golf Club in Destin. Golfers enjoyed a Halloween themed golf outing with over 30 sponsors and dozens of volunteers helping to make the day a great success. The title sponsor was Giant Enterprises who provided swag bags for the attendees. The Food Truck Dinner with Stanley Street Treats provided by CompleteDKI and FirstService Residential was a big hit. Players enjoyed the Margarita Bar sponsored by Community Management Associates and a delicious deli lunch courtesy of Harrison Contracting Company. The Beverage Cart was provided by Burg Law. The North Gulf Coast Chapter is one of 66 Community Association Institute chapters worldwide. Membership includes professional community association managers, association volunteer leaders (homeowners and community association board members) and business partners that serve these associations. Member services provided by CAI Headquarters include conferences, education courses, periodicals, books, professional service directories, legislative and regulatory advocacy, professional designations, and more.


Steve Gudewicz & Wade Cotton

Melissa Heath & Kari Painter

Jackie Kirley & Tiffany Tabares

DC Matthews & John Butler

Robin Hicks & Honey Harris

Dan Calvario & Dave McClanahan

Kent Tinsley, David Chapman, Darren Chapman & Tami Groth


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(850) 503-1060


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VIP Destin at South Walton Restaurants

4th Annual

Harvest Wine & Food Festival photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


he 4th Annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival might not have looked like those from the past few years, but the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) were able to produce a festival that brought people together but in a safe and healthy way and it was one to remember. With 9 events in 3 days from 30A to Destin on November 5. 6 and 7, it was fi lled with more than 100 lots with rare wines, experiences, and luxury staycations. This year they even offered ways to give if you couldn’t attend the events with online auctions. The Festival provides the opportunity to sip and savor some of the world’s finest wine and culinary selections and although it had smaller venues instead of the traditional Grand Tasting, it was completely sold out for each of the 9 events. The DWCAF “connects wine enthusiasts to raise money benefiting children in need in Northwest Florida.” Founded in 2005, DCWAF has already donated over $21 million to charities by hosting world class wine and culinary events. These funds have impacted the lives of over 100,000 youth. This year’s events were graciously and impressively hosted at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, Cuvee 30A, Vin’tij Food & Wine, Old Florida Fish House, and Bijoux.


Susan & Roger Hall

Jerry Kottler & Shawn Springfield

Vicki & David Gordon

Debbie Heath & June Freeman

Karen Wade & Mark Allen

Susan Smith & Leah Ladd


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Leonard Olson & Lynn McKenzie

Demetria McNeese, Keith Dean & Sonnet Singleton


Ed & Denise Kendust December 2020 | 39

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DECEMBER 1 – JANUARY 31 Baytowne on Ice The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9300 Baytowne Wharf Blvd. | Miramar Beach Times vary, see full schedule at BaytowneWharf. com Dust off those skates and get in the winter spirit at The Village of Baytowne Wharf’s Baytowne on Ice. For those visitors who miss the cold and ice, our seasonal ice rink is the perfect opportunity to share some of your favorite holiday traditions. Pricing and group rentals available at



12 Nights of Lights

Emerald Coast Theatre Company 560 Grand Boulevard, Upstairs | Miramar Beach Dec 4, 5,10-12,17-19 at 7:30pm Dec 6, 13, 20 at 2:00pm

The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9300 Baytowne Wharf Blvd. | Miramar Beach 6:00pm, 7:00pm & 8:00pm Enjoy a festive light show every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas. This sparkling event will also be featured during our Wednesday Night Concert Series. Watch three dazzling shows each night.

For more events and other things to do at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, visit

A Christmas Carol

This thrilling adaptation uses only five actors to bring some of Dickens’ most beloved characters to life. From Scrooge and Tiny Tim to Bob Cratchit and Mrs. Fezziwig, Barlow’s A Christmas Carol uses nothing more than some simple props, fresh physicality, and the power of imagination to convey this timeless story of redemption. Witness Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from a stingy miser to a man who generously celebrates the spirit of the season all year long, in this highly theatrical adaptation. For ticketing info, please visit

DECEMBER 8 & 15 Christmas Cabaret on the Boulevard Emerald Coast Theatre Company 560 Grand Boulevard, Upstairs | Miramar Beach, FL 7:30pm Mix, mingle, and enjoy live musical selections performed by the talented actors at ECTC. Enjoy classic holiday songs and join in some carols as well. Like a mug of hot cocoa, this event will warm your heart and get you in the holiday spirit! For ticketing info, please visit

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DECEMBER 12 Cafè Thirty-A’s Christmas Charity Ball Cafè Thirty-A 3899 E County Hwy 30A | Santa Rosa Beach 7:00pm - 11:00pm This annual event will boast a large silent auction and raffle with proceeds benefiting Caring and Sharing of South Walton’s efforts to provide food and financial assistance to local families and individuals in need - this year more than ever. Expect a Champagne Toast, Heavy Hors D’oeuvres, DJ 30A, and photobooth fun. For other details and to purchase tickets visit

DECEMBER 12, 13, 19 & 20


Breakfast with Santa

Holiday Gospel Brunch featuring D”Vine

Emerald Grande - Ballroom 10 Harbor Boulevard | Destin 8:00am – 12:00noon

Coastal Ballroom at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa 4000 Sandestin Blvd S | Miramar Beach 10:30am – 12:30pm

The Ho Ho Holidays are here! Join us for Breakfast with Santa in the Grande Ballroom. Enjoy a buffet breakfast, a Santa letter writing station, build your own hot chocolate station, and visits with Santa. Breakfast includes: Frosty’s Fruit Display, Elfie’s Scrambled Eggs, Blitzen’s Bacon, Starry Night Sausage, Holiday Home Fries, Mrs. Claus’ Quiche, Jingle Bell Biscuits, Fa La La La La French Toast, and Dasher’s Doughunt Station.

D’Vine is described as an American masterpiece, whose artistic excellence and significant contribution to its artform has left a lasting impression on the national landscape. Paula Saunders, Pam Deas and Sheryl Pollard Riggins have performed for millions of people from the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, to Athens, Greece. D’Vine has delivered songs that linger in the hearts of audiences long after the group has left the stage. Hilton Sandestin executive chef Dan Vargo will create a tantalizing brunch menu to set the mood. Ticket price includes performance, brunch and all gratuities. Cash bar also available.

Reservations highly recommended – 850-424-0622. For more information visit

For ticket pricing and info visit



34th Annual Holiday on the Harbor – Destin Lighted Boat Parade

New Year’s Eve Street Party

Destin Harbor 5:00pm lineup with parade at 6:00pm The Destin History and Fishing Museum and Margaritaville will be hosting the 34th Annual Holiday on the Harbor Lighted Boat Parade. Festivities will be held all afternoon along the Harbor prior to the Lighted Boat Parade. Judging will take place at Margaritaville. The fireworks show will begin after the boat parade. The parade can be viewed from docks, businesses and restaurants from Grand Harbor Condominiums to HarborWalk Village. Boats of all sizes and types are invited to be in the parade. Thousands of locals and visitors include this event in their holiday celebration. The event is free to attend. For entry forms of more information call the Destin History & Fishing Museum at 837-6611 or email

HarborWalk Village 10 Harbor Boulevard | Destin Start the new year off with a bang at the annual ball drop at HarborWalk Village. Dine, drink, and dance your way throughout the Destin Harbor while listening to live music. The beach ball drop descending over the harbor makes this celebration the most bustling place to be in Destin on New Year’s Eve. For families, the beach ball starts to drop at 8:00pm with a fireworks show so children with early bedtimes can join in the fun. Later, for the grownups, the beach ball finishes its descent with more fireworks during the countdown to the new year at midnight.

Visit for more events!

Event information may be out of date due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Please confirm details with event organizers. December 2020 | 41

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VIP Destin at Aj’s Seafood and Oyster Bar

72nd Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo


Aw ds photos & story by Jeff Watson

arly in the year when Covid first hit, there was a question whether the 72nd Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo would even happen. As summer approached, it becane apparent that boating and fishing were actually some of the safer things we could still do. The tournament was on. The Rodeo is considered an Angler’s Tournament which means private or charter boats pay the tournament fees, and anyone fishing aboard these vessels are eligible to win over 500 prizes. Aj’s on the Harbor is home to the weigh-ins which take place everyday for the entire month of October. Miss Destin 2020, Lauren Adams, is present for pictures. With 25 divisions, including 35 species of fish, everyone has a chance to win. For what began as a shaky start to the tournament and the year, the 72nd Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo had a tremendous turnout. Executive Director, Helen Donaldson, and host of volunteers worked hard to a make this years tournament a huge success in the face of adversity.


Mark Hotze & Kayla Burleson

Paul Harris

Gregory Peck & Erin Lagrosse

Derrick Dover, Milton Harris & Andrew Dover

Helen Donaldson & Amber Helton


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Jonelle Bell & Scott Whitehurst

Ann White, Becky MackFarlane , Lauren Adams & Angela Kalthoff

Ashley Ridner

Rachel Green & Dan Collins

William Sexton, Lauren Adams & Billy Sexton

Lauren Adams, Mark Luciani & Tanner O’Keefe

Dale Paulson & Lauren Adams

Cathy Trotter & Sue Hill

Steve Ortner December 2020 | 43

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VIP Destin at Legendary Marine


Appreciation Lunch photos & story by Zhalman Harris


ppreciatingthe people who serve and keep us safe is a no-brainer and, in fact, a noble gesture. That is why A Superior Air Conditioning Company, owned by Jimy Thorpe, sponsors appreciation lunches like the one held on November 4, at Legendary Marine. The monthly appreciation lunch shows how much this community appreciates our service men, women, and veterans. Guests who attended the luncheon enjoyed lunch with a view of the Choctawhatchee Bay and beautiful weather that could not have been more perfect. The guest speaker of the event was Col. Ed Hubbard, a writer and veteran who spent six years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. His talk was about overcoming obstacles and reaching any goal by developing the right state of mind and dealing with stress in a healthy way. Hubbard said 55 years ago he decided he was never going to have a bad day again in his life, and ever since then his mind was made up. Even though at some point in captivity when he weighed less than a hundred pounds, he saw someone else who was in worse shape than he was. He shared the story of how he and others in prison had to force feed a comrade twice a day for 2 years. “If that doesn’t change your perspective of empathy nothing will,” Col. Hubbard said. Legendary Marine presented a check of $8,200 to Jackie Syverson for the Emerald Coast Honor Games, which raises funds to support DEFENDERS of the Front Line. The Emerald Coast Honor Games will be hosting the 4th annual “Ruck 22” event to raise awareness for our veterans and the ‘invisible wounds’ they suffer as a result of multiple deployments and the transition to non-military life.

Megan Gaster, Becca Bonner & Peyton Pallar

David Butler & Bill Blanken

Col. Ed Hubbard December 2020 | 45

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VIP Destin at Military and Veterans Appreciation Lunch


Todd Royall & Megan Harrison

Jimmy Dallas & Jimy Thorpe

Marta Thorpe & Hilary Butler

Gayle Vann & Jamie Hall

Jennifer Cooper & Kristy Barton

Tamara Campbell & Amelia Beard

Sarah Ambriz & Megan Ryan

Megan Harrison & Heather Cleveland

Kari Painter & Alison Smith

Chelsea Fox & Lane Redding

Sabrina Granese, Christine Powell, Dani Natcher & Mae Leroy


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Annemarie McClain Sr. Home Loan Advisor

Cell: (850) 461-1474 Office: (850) 533-8414 NMLS ID # 1600155 Apply Online

165 Brooks Street, Suite A Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548 NMLS ID #2004055 CBM Mortgage is an Equal Housing Lender CBM Mortgage, Inc.– Company NMLS #282839 ( )

December 2020 | 47

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story by Anna Stockton



h, the holidays, a time when “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” is not only acceptable but highly encouraged. 2020 hasn’t been an easy time to keep in shape. The quarantine weight, plus the hurricane snacks, along with the election stress drinks, combined with the Wine Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, anad okay … I think I see the problem here. Anyway, this year may look different for us but that won’t stop most of us from celebrating like we don’t have a Mardi Gras dress to fit into. The good thing is that cocktails have come a long way. Skinny cocktails are a thing and are a wonderful way to enjoy the holidays -- without the guilt. A good way to make your holiday drink lighter is by using a liquor that has fewer calories. Vodka, gin, and tequila are all good choices, although the higher the proof, the higher the calories, and also the higher the probability you’ll tell that annoying relative how you really feel. Another way to curb calories is to use sparkling water or light soda as a base, or if the recipe calls for wine, mix sparkling water with wine to cut the calories in half. Hard seltzers have made a huge splash this year. Seltzers can be used as a base or on their own. Just add a garnish like cranberries or mint and you’ll have a festive drink that’s low in both calories and carbs. While some hard seltzers taste like the fruit simply rolled past the distillery, there are some seltzers that pack a punch of flavor. Crook and Marker’s organic hard 48


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seltzers have enough taste to satisfy even those who are skeptical of the hard seltzer trend. With so many flavors to choose from, the options are endless. Along with using lighter liquors, bases, and seltzers, there are also some other ways to save the calories that go along with holiday libations. For instance, eating a meal before you get the drinks flowing will stop you from snacking on unhealthy (but really, really tasty) treats. Also, try drinking a glass of water in between cocktails -- you’ll still have a drink in your hand but the end result will be different. You’ll be more hydrated and less likely to be “up a tree” the next morning. Lastly, as the quote goes, “Who is this moderation I’m supposed to be drinking with?” This is the tough one …. drink with moderation. I know it’s not as fun but it’s called “adulting” and apparently it’s what we’re supposed to do. If the holiday rush has you cramped for time, ready-made skinny cocktail mixes are here to save your party. Whether you want a festive margarita, trendy cosmos, or a bloody mary to serve at brunch, there’s a cocktail mix for whatever you fancy. Make sure you read the label of these mixes, some don’t contain alcohol so you have to mix in your own, while others are “booze-in” so you should probably mix in your own. Kidding, see the paragraph above regrading moderation. Has 2020 been the best year? No. Would I ever want to repeat it? Absolutely not. But it wasn’t all bad with friends doing mental health checks on each other during home-schooling and neighbors sharing food after hurricanes. We are better, stronger, and more resilient for it. So, enjoy the family, friends, and festivities this holiday season. Eat, drink, and be merry and may the only guilt you feel be the guilt your mother bestows on you.

The Poinsettia Ingredients:

2 ounces cranberry juice 4 ounces champagne, prosecco, or other dry, sparkling white wine 1/2 ounce orange liqueur


Pour cranberry juice into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Then top with a floater of orange liqueur.

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VIP Destin at Northwest Florida State College



photos & story by Zhalman Harris

ealing Paws for Warriors, Inc. held their graduation and service dog retirement program at the Northwest Florida State College on November 6, with fourteen graduates and one retiree. The graduation event takes place twice a year in May and November where new service K9s are commissioned to serve. The star of the show was Orion, a service K9 who served as a companion and a friend to Mike Arena. As the first retiree after years of service, Orion retired with a huge celebration and honorarium event. He will continue as HP4W’s Community Ambassador. HP4Ws is a local nonprofit organization that provides post9/11 combat veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST), other issues with Americans With Disabilities Act-certified service dogs, and also bringing awareness to veteran suicide; reducing the numbers one service dog at a time. “The retirement / graduation was a huge success thanks to all the love, support and commitment,” said Sheila Hale, operations manager of Healing Paws for Warriors.

James Baggins, Don Folley, Valerie Knight, Juan Hernandez, Jennifer Johnson with Chopper, Brock Merriman & Nick Boyle

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VIP Destin at Healing Paws for Warriors

Caleb Bailey with Bell

Sheila Hale & Mike Arena with Ava

Ashlyn Lewis-Hope with Sammy

Don Asher with Jax

Matt Rumpel with Hope 52

Frank Daley with Maggie Mae

Heidi Luke with Hero


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Happy New Year! “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.� Luke 2:11

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VIP Destin at Legendary Marine


he Emerald Coast Honor Games hosted the 4th annual “Ruck 22” on November 7 at Legendary Marine. The event raises awareness for our veterans and the ‘invisible wounds’ they suffer as a result of multiple deployments and the transition to non-military life. . According to common, well known, figures, each day approximately 22 US Veterans commit suicide. Even a single one is an outrage and a tragedy. Short of suicide, our brave men and women (military and first responders) across the

Justin Tartaglia & Will Bulcken

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photos & story by Zhalman Harris

nation and abroad are struggling with symptoms related to PTSD and other byproducts from defending the front lines. The 4th annual “Ruck 22” presented by The Emerald Coast Honor Games was an honorary ruck/march/walk in which the entire community, children included (with parents present) were invited out to join, mingle, march, and go down range with real soldiers to complete a course that is

equivalent to 22 laps around a track. The course took participants from Legendary Marine through Destin Commons shopping complex. Before the march, the brains behind the event, Sean Lynch and Jackie Syverson welcomed participants and thanked them for being a part of such a worthy cause. For a $100 donation, participants were lifted on top of the World’s Largest American Flag Mural atop Legendary Marine. During the raffle draw, lucky winners also took home a YOLO SUP board, 2 YOLO bikes, and a custom firearm from Elevated Silence.

Norma Coria, Matt Wendt & Britton Crobin

Collins, Emory, Gracy & Todd Royall


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Ayumi Saquilan & Ryan Rogers

Tiana, Nadia, Johnny, Jennifer & Amaya Moses

Wayne Norrad, Karlynne Akys & Sherri Hayes

Ruby, Whitney & Stella Chapman

AJ Bowman & Samuel Johnson

Jackie Powell & Matt Caruso

Ashley Roberts & Krystal Edwards December 2020 | 55

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GI V E | C A R E | S H A R E

We love to see you bio-feelin’ it!


story by Greg Alexander

hidden gem of learning, wildlife, water, and exploration is close by that is helping to educate elementary school students about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, conservation, preservation, and restoration of our ecosystems. The E.O. Wilson Biophlia Center is located just a short distance across the Choctowhatchee Bay off of Highway 331 at 4956 State Highway 20 East in Freeport. Walton County conservationist and resident, M.C. Davis on his 50,000 acre conservation land name Nokuse Plantation, developed the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in 2009. The Center is named after and dedicated to world renowned scientist Dr. Edward O. Wilson, who has made his life-long mission to educate the public about the importance of conserving the world’s biodiversity. Dr. Wilson developed the term “biophilia” which literally means “the love of all living things”.


| photos provided by E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

Students who visit the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center learn about the natural environment through interpretive exhibits as well as an extensive trail system through natural areas on Nokuse Plantation. The Center offers programs with curriculum that coincides with Florida’s education standards. While promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics (STEM) subjects, students are provided opportunities for inquiry, investigation and innovation by gaining a better understanding and knowledge of their surroundings, which is especially important in our area with so many diverse natural wonders. They visit for 2-day or 4-day programs with over 25 lessons that concentrate on the importance of the longleaf pine ecosystem which include aspects of the land, water, plant life, and native forest animals. The Walton County School District considers this facility to be an extension of

their classroom as the Center acts as their science education project-based learning facility, the place where schooling becomes applicable. Each year, the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center educates 5,200 students in a 5-county area and averages more than 120 students every school day. The Biophilia Center is also open on select days to the general public, providing a variety of environmental presentations. There are so many ways to help the Biophilia Center. They offer opportunities to “Adopt an Animal,” sponsor an event, become a member, or donate to help further their mission. There are many volunteer opportunities available. Visit them at for more details.


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Interview with Paul Arthur, Director EO Wilson Biophilia Center “You teach me, I forget. You show me, I remember. You involve me, I understand.” – Dr. E.O. Wilson How long have you been involved with the Biophilia Center?

I just, excitingly, celebrated my 10-year anniversary here. I first learned of the Biophilia Center when my son was in the 4th grade and came for a visit. I was lucky enough to be a chaperone. During that visit, I was enjoying my time so much and interacting with the kids, staff, and animals, the director at that time offered me a part-time job on the spot. Nature, students/kids, animals, and a great team – I was in! Throughout my 10 years I have been promoted several times and now I serve as the president of the board, and director of the Biophilia Center. What is the mission of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center?

To educate students and visitors on the importance of biodiversity, to promote sustainability, and to encourage conservation, preservation and restoration of ecosystems. What diverse services and activities go on at the Biophilia Center?

We offer FREE environmental education to Walton, Bay, Okaloosa, Holmes, and Washington counties for 4th and 7th grades. We have over 1,200 pages of curriculum used by teachers and students pre-visit, while they are visiting the Biophilia Center, and post-visit in their classroom. With over 50 wildlife animal ambassadors and a passionate team, the Biophilia Center is the ultimate hands-on environmental education facility.

We also started Camp Longleaf in 2019 -- an interactive campsite consisting of 6 cabins (58 total beds), a dining hall, commercial kitchen, a 2,000 square foot campfire hexagon platform with a 6-foot firepit, an activities arena, swing sets, bouncy houses, and more. Camp Longleaf is home to summer camps, our Naturalists Outdoors program, weekend rentals, and corporate outings. The Naturalists Outdoors program is offered to elementary, middle, and high schools all over the country, including our local school districts, to come visit during the school year and participate in all that the Biophilia Center has to offer while staying at Camp Longleaf. Details can be found at and During the summers we also provide day-camp opportunities for younger children along with public hours and group rates for program participation during the week. These programs take place at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, which offers an exhibit hall, trails, classrooms, a theater, birds-of-prey observation enclosures, and more. How have you pivoted this year with COVID affecting our lives and activities?

We were humming along with a packed schedule for 2020. Our Naturalists Outdoors program had schools scheduled from California, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and many locations around Florida. All which were halted in March. Not utilizing the Biophilia Center and Camp Longleaf to its fullest has definitely been hard to accept, but we have been able to take advantage of this “down time” in many different facets around the Center. Maintenance and upgrades have been addressed and accomplished. This includes physical improvements to facilities and grounds, in-depth animal training, curriculum updates,

program enhancements, and much more. The team has embraced the need to prepare and improve our Center for the anticipation of students coming back. We have integrated an online aspect to connect with our local school districts through Zoom meetings. Nothing can compare to hands-on project-based learning that the Biophilia Center has to offer, but our connection with students has been effective. The area’s teachers are truly the unsung heroes and we want to offer an escape to their “normal” classroom daily routine. How is the organization funded?

We rely on donations from corporate and individual gifts as well as foundation grants. We also raise money through our special events and through activities at Camp Longleaf and summer programs. What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with the organization?

Knowing that I work with an organization that was put in place to better our community, environment, and overall health of our local school districts is humbling. Not many people get to say they work with students, teachers, animals, nature, and the best team in the business. How lucky am I? Are there any upcoming events?

We are planning on rolling out a multifaceted initiative called “Journey Back to Nature” virtual 5k walk/run, which will focus on the health of our environment and the health of the community. This innovative program will be different from other virtual walks. Participants will register and be rewarded for their efforts as they virtually move their avatar down the path. December 2020 | 57

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VIP Destin at Rooftop of Great Florida Smiles


Strategic Partner Appreciation photos & story by Jeff



fter months of many events being postponed and canceled, the Women’s Council of Realtors of the Emerald Coast was excited to host a gathering of members and friends on October 29. The setting was the Roof Top of the Great Florida Smiles building which offers an inviting setting with a beautiful sunset view. As the sun faded, representatives from local real estate companies, mortgage lenders, and supporting real estate industries mixed and mingled as the Women’s Council of Realtors showed their appreciation to the area vendors that support their businesses and their organization. Michelle Bailey & Rachel Simerly

Sherrie Salas & Elexus Salas

Meredith Burchfield, Jessica Forrester, Natalie Schmidt & Daniele Hamrick

Tara Johnson, Colleen Faherty & Stephanie Anderson

Jody Hobbs, Bob Redmund & Keith Hamrick December 2020 | 61

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for the

story by Courtney Murray


or 2020, many folks have decked out their homes early for the holiday season. For those of you that haven’t – maybe you will find a little inspiration here… for those of you who won’t – you can live vicariously through the trends that so many others have decided on for the year. Most of us are probably spending a little more time at home and can certainly stand an extra festive glow. If that includes you – then bright colors are the cue. Technicolor is on point and embracing vivid colors can bring joy and brighten up any room. It is not necessary to repaint the place, just throw in some colorful barware and retro, multi-color string lights to amp up the ambience. Many people are craving the classics this year, as well. This takes us back to lighted ceramic trees or, depending on your generation, maybe metallic foil ones. Shiny and bright colored glass ornaments where you never fail to break at least one in the carton will lead you back to your childhood. Whether you are concerned about recycling or in case you just want to offer a cool and different flair to your gifting, try the art of furoshiki. No, it is not a karate move, just a way of wrapping gifts with fabric and tying a knot. It will make anything that is inside a little more fun (while you help save the planet). This year, trendsetters are planning on a blue Christmas – which is not a bad thing. Indigo and navy accents are huge hits in everything from table linens and tree skirts to ornaments and lights. Tie dye, which has been ever present in design this year, is not going away for the holidays as many shades, especially the blues are popular choices. Door décor is particularly popular this year. This expression of holiday cheer will greet not only your guests, but anyone passing by your place. We are not talking just wreaths, but swags, garlands, bows, and lights collectively create a warm welcome each time you come home. Natural elements such as fresh greens, dried foliage, raw wood, and pinecones are always visible in home decor this time of year. You can use them as they are or break out a can of Krylon and make them any color you wish. Pop your pine cones in the oven for a few minutes and they will stretch wide open, making them easy to paint, flock, or bleach -- or just leave them au naturale. All of these elements contribute to wreaths and garlands, or to tablescapes by just filling a bowl or vessel. Farmhouse neutrals have been the rage for the last few years and they are going nowhere for the holidays. Farmhouse Christmas searches are up 900% over the last 5 years according to Google trends. This is an easy, wide-reaching look to accomplish with knitted stockings, neutral colors, kraft papers, flocked wreaths, and pillows, ribbons and bows in combinations of plaids, checks, and burlap fabrics. While there are many trends and new ways to smarten up your holiday style, the best colors for your holiday décor are ones that match your existing colors scheme. Play off of what you already have and re-purpose some of those things in your Christmas closet that you have not used in years. You can change the look of almost anything with a little spray paint or some sandpaper, and if you don’t like the end result – then there is your excuse to try a different trend this year.



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VIP Destin at Frill Seekers

A “Frilling” Meet-N-Greet with Brittany Young photos & story by Zhalman Harris

W Brittany Young

Allie Noah, Cari-Beth & Blair McDonald

Sarah Stone & Brittany Young

ith champagne popping and confetti flying of course, Brittany Young, now a bestselling author, made good on her promise and appeared at Frill Seekers Gifts for a meet-n-greet on November 10, to sign her book, Celebrate with Sprinkles: More Than 100 Party Possibilities to Add Joy and Sparkle to Any Occasion. Shop owner, Heidi LoCicero noted, “The line to meet Brittany started forming out front of our shop an hour before opening. Locals and vacationers attended the event from as far away as Louisiana, Alabama, Pensacola, and a few from Tallahassee who were vacationing and saw the shop’s Instagram announcement and decided that the beach day could wait. They all wanted to meet Brittany!” The book shows readers how to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary with intentional celebrating, with a pop of pizzazz. Brittany became known across the country as the “Certified Celebrator” when she had a son and became obsessed with creating memories for him, her family, and friends. She had picked up a jar of Valentine’s Day sprinkles from the grocery and put them on top of frozen pancakes. Little did she know that something so small and simple would become a holiday tradition that her family would look forward to many times throughout the year. From there she started planning over the top parties for friends, family, and her social media following. She quickly realized she wasn’t the only busy momma wanting to throw a party and create family memories on a realistic budget. Five years ago, Brittany popped into the quaint Destin gift shop, Frill Seekers Gifts, for a little “retail therapy.” She and shop owners, Heidi and Peyton LoCicero became fast friends over their shared love of entertaining, encouraging women, crafting, and finding ways to add sparkle to any occasion. Before leaving, Brittany looked the mother-daughter duo in the eyes and said, “When I get a book deal, I’m hosting my book signing right here at your shop!” They quickly agreed on that plan, should it come to fruition. And it did!

Julie Hall & Shea Boykin

Irene Frankhouse & Heidi LoCicero December 2020 | 65

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VIP Destin at Destin Palm Bistro

Kathey Mitchell & Denise Kendust

Emily Friendlander & Teresa Allen

Rick Martin & Sean Foster

Business before Hours Destin Palm Bistro photos & story by Zhalman Harris


n November 13, guests and members of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, had their Business Before Hours at the Palms of Destin Bistro. The event, which was sponsored by White-Wilson Medical Center brought business owners and executives together for a morning of hearty breakfast, networking, and information gathering before their work day. The main speaker at the breakfast meeting was newly elected Okaloosa County Commissioner, Mel Ponder. Mel talked about the importance of “Family.” Not only the family at home but the people we work with or find ourselves interacting with in our community. As a man of faith, Mel also dshared a few passages on a few passages from the Bible to encourage guests to follow their passion, be passionate of who they are, and also be stewards of where we live. “We live in a beautiful place, a place where the community is strong and we love each other,” said Mel. New members of the chamber were also introduced and before the end of the event a few lucky attendees won some fabulous door prices that were donated by other members and businesses attending the breakfast meeting.

Alyssa Jesmain & Monica Autrey

Cara Riccio & Ashley Atkinson

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Lindsey Polk & Shannah Hanks


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Elizabeth Spies & Cassy Dejulio

Aline Ibanes, Rachel Borgie, Melissa Reed & Stacey Young

Chad Rewis & Ashley Bailey

Debra Bruce & Donna Montalvo

Fred Fenn, Bill Head & Skip Overdier

Trisha Marks & Ivana Coteat

Mel Ponder & David Butler

Myla Martinez & Bernita Everett

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VIP Destin at Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village

photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


he 20th Anniversary Celebration for the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center was held on November 11 at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village. From 5:30-10:00 PM, attendees and patrons gathered to help celebrate the years of preventing child abuse and neglect, protecting children, and restoring lives and futures of impacted children that the ECCAC has been able to provide with over 14,000+ children they’ve seen. A Night With the Stars featured the Modern Eldorados who had the audience singing, dancing, and celebrating. Between acts, eventgoers had the opportunity to enter the charity drawing for fabulous prizes and raffles. Opening act, Nic Turner & The Lucky Strike Retros, had the crowd primed and ready for a great night of music, fun, and dancing. VIP tables included appetizers and wine, while others packed their own picnic and chairs as this event had something for everyone. In addition to great music, there were food trucks and room to roam in the outdoor setting. All who attended enjoyed the socially distant event supporting all who help run the ECCAC. Ellen Glaess & Susan Leger

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Mark Gardner, Diane Lewellyn, Aimee Shaffer, Nautica Caswell & Jackie Jacks


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Joe & Linda Mustachio

Kaitlyn White, Latrina Black, Tracie Esmond & Esmeralda Jacobo

Mary & Samuel Hoffman

Julie Porterfield & Tom Saffel

John Coletta, Renee Pellegrino & Audie Rowell

Lorre & Bob James

Ashley Myers, Kevin Peck, Jennifer Clark & Samantha Collazo

Christa Bass & Shannon Hudson

Megan Murphy & Catherine Sterns December 2020 | 69

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LOCALE O Francia T. Squatrito, DPM, FACFAS, CWSP, of Bay Foot and Ankle Recently Certified by the American Board of Wound Management Francia T. Squatrito, DPM, FACFAS, CWSP, of Bay Foot and Ankle was recently certified by the American Board of Wound Management (ABWM) as a CWSP®. This is an important accomplishment achieved through hours of hard work in preparation for the CWSP® Examination. Established in 1995, the ABWM is dedicated to the multidisciplinary team approach in promoting the science of prevention, care, and treatment of acute and chronic wounds. The primary function is to establish and monitor a national certification process, recognize competency, promote education/ research, and elevate the standard of care across the continuum of wound management. Currently the ABWM has certified approximately 4,000 individuals nationwide with their three wound management designations. Board certification in wound management is achieved only through a rigorous process by the ABWM. Those who become certified in wound management through the ABWM have earned the professional designation of CWSP®. CWSPs are an elite group of healthcare professionals involved in wound management. The CWSP credential is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. A CWSP® should always be sought to become a key member of an institution’s wound management team. An expert such as a CWSP® can help an institution get to the heart of the needs of an institution’s wound care program and can identify and give guidance in the reduction of costs associated with the management of chronic wounds. CWSPs can also be utilized risk managers. Attorneys would find their expert testimony a valuable consultant for their legal team. 70

Festival of the Arts

Fine art welcomed more than 2,000 art lovers to the 25th Annual Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Festival of the Arts. The two-day signature art celebration held October 24 and 25 in the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin featured exhibits of more than 65 premier artists from across the United States showcasing a diverse palette of artistic style. “In its 23rd season, the Festival of the Arts has evolved into a signature cultural event that supports the Foundation and our Community Outreach programs serving those who lack access to the arts through guest artist residencies with impactful and powerful interactive experiences with therapeutic benefits for the arts,” stated Marcia Hull, CEO of MKAF. Guest judges Darlene Crosby Taylor, Director of Public Art and Exhibitions for Thomasville Center of the Arts, and Kenneth Bridger, Art American Multidisciplinary Artist, awarded 27 ribbons that each included a cash prize. Honors were given for one “Best in Show,” three Awards of Excellence, five Awards of Merit, and 10 Judge’s Recognition Awards. Awards were given to artists whose work reflected exceptional talent and craftsmanship. Best in Show artist, Kelly Rysavy, traveled from Tallahassee to exhibit her Renaissanceinspired art pieces. Rysavy, a first-time festival exhibitor, layers rich earthy colors and a delicate play of light against form to create a velvety texture that breathes life into the canvas. The Best in Show Adult winner of the Collaborative Art Exhibit was awarded to William Osnabrugge and the Best in Show Student winner was Veronika Jacobson from Fort Walton Beach High School. The Collaborative Art Exhibit features adults and students competing for the Special McIlroy Awards in honor of the late Patricia McIlroy. MKAF will begin accepting artist and poster entry applications for the 2021 Festival of the Arts in February 2021, which is scheduled to be held on October 30-31, 2021.

FWBMC Auxiliary Donates $1,000 to Children in Crisis The Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Auxiliary recently presented a check for $1,000 to Children in Crisis to help feed, clothe, and give a loving home to the children living at the CIC Neighborhood. Ken Hair, CIC President & CEO commented, “2020 has been a difficult year due to COVID-19 and a reduction in donations which makes the challenge critical. The donation will make a huge difference in the lives of our children. Support from the FWB Medical Ct. Auxiliary is vital to our very worthy mission.”

Children in Crisis is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), charity of caring people that are passionate about helping with the severe shortage of foster homes in our community. The CIC Neighborhood provides an emergency shelter for children that are removed from an unsafe environment on short notice and homes to help with the foster home shortage. Since the opening, over 985 children have been given a home, food, clothing and love. Additionally, all of our brother and sister family sibling groups have been kept together. For additional information on CIC or ways to support the CIC vision, please visit www. or call 864-4242.


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VIP Destin at Ruth’s Chris

8th Annual

Fall Wine Walkabout T

photos & story by Zhalman Harris

he 8th Annual Fall Wine Walkabout to benefit Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s community outreach programs was held on November 12 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Silver Shells Resort in Destin. Patrons had the chance to enter an amazing charity raffle where all guests had an opportunity to win travel excursions and experiences. Attendees purchased numbered wine corks to match their winning bottle of wine in the “MKAF Wine Pull,” which has become a popular tradition at this event. A collection of 100 bottles of fine wines donated from wine enthusiasts, private wine cellars, distributors, and restaurants are added to the collection for guests to match their winning numbers to. Even though the event was held outdoors with adequate space for distancing, all Ruth’s Chris team members, volunteers, and event organizers wore masks for the safety of the attendees, to add another level of safety. Chef Ruston Johnson created a special menu featuring multiple culinary stations of heavy hors d’oeuvres paired with select fine wines, courtesy of a variety of distributors. Marcia Hull stated, “It has been such a pleasure to be the voice of Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation for the past 22 years. It is the people and relationships that mean the most to me and their selfless contributions to bring art and culture to the community, especially the underserved populations. One of my favorite quotes from Edgar Degas is ‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.’ I hope that is true!” Even though this was her last major event before her retirement, Marcia promised she will be close by and had no plans on leaving the area.

Melanie & Doug Wilson

Langley & Bill Lindsley

Teresa & David Allen

Dion & Mindy Moniz

Haley & Ian Blaise

Ada Bowman & Serena Johnson December 2020 | 71

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VIP Destin at Fall Wine Walkabout

Gwen Wendt & Gwen Rhonda Parsons

Bill Lindsley, Shantelle Dedicke, Marcia Hull, Denise Kendust & Kevin Bowyer

Candi Wilson & Joan Carter

Clint Rogers & Kim Eubanks

Matt Morgan & Heidi Gonzalez

Roksolana Kubarych & Yordan Christoff

Deb & Richard Reyes

Sylvia Vasquez, Kate Callicotte, Joan Willis, Janine Pitts, Peggy Reis, Cheryl Pawelczyk, Rhonda Parsons & Helen Everett 72


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Feature Your Business in the January Bridal Issue

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Dr. Michael Stickler

How did you end up here on the Emerald Coast? I grew up just south of Pittsburgh, PA, and first came to Florida in 2002 to complete my internship and dermatology residency at the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville. Our first time in Destin was when my wife, Johnna and I decided to take a trip while pregnant with our first child. We stayed at the old Ramada on Destin Beach and while on a walk we felt our son kick for the very first time. We knew at that moment he wanted to live in Destin! Fortunately, we were talking about our desire to move here at that very same time. We love the people and the beautiful landscape and could not be happier with our decision. Tell us about your profession. My father was a coal miner and had convinced my brothers and me that a degree in engineering would be a wise career path. I studied mechanical engineering at Penn State, but it was my introduction to biomedical engineering that redirected my path to the field of medicine. While in medical school, I truly enjoyed rotating through all of the medical specialties and graduating as valedictorian of my class provided a wide range of options. Dermatology provided me the opportunity to care for patients of all ages in the clinic and perform surgery for those in need. It was a perfect match. What do you like best about Destin? We love to take the kids to the beach on a summer afternoon and have the beach “to ourselves.” People think we hit the beach so late because I’m a dermatologist. It’s usually “locals only” by that time and we enjoy watching the kids play until sunset in the waves. The combination of the breathtaking beaches and tremendous small town feel of the community is a unique asset of Destin. Describe yourself in three words. Hardworking. Trustworthy. Compassionate. Finish this statement, I AM DESTIN because… We knew from the moment we first walked the beautiful beaches (and confirmed by our son) that Destin was our home. Fifteen years later we have found the perfect place to raise our three sons. We feel so blessed to be able to call this amazing place our home.

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