VIP Destin Magazine - April 2022

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APRIL 2022

DESTIN • FORT WALTON BEACH • SOUTH WALTON



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WE KNOW YOU KNOW TODD...

NOW MEET THE idMI TEAM! JORGE

CARRIE

TODD

LINZI

JAMIE NICK

12170 EMERALD COAST PARKWAY | MIRAMAR BEACH, FL 850.269.1699 | I D M I D E S I G N . C O M

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY JASON LINDBLAD

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contents

Volume XIX • Issue IV

events 13 Crescendo! Main Event 19 VIP Destin Magazine Black Tie Ball 39 Destin Chamber Business After Hours 48 Brokerage Council Awards Gala 50 VIP Destin Magazine Cover Reveal Party 56 Walton County Fire Rescue Charity Cookout 60 Pins & Pancakes 63 Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Gala 2022 70 Women United 72 Young Professionals VIP Meet & Greet 78 Destin Chamber Business Before Hours 84 Realty One Group Emerald Coast Anniversary Party 86 Tourism & Hospitality Lunch 92 Holi Festival of Colors 96 Golf Cowboys Spring Fling 100 Mac & Cheese Festival

departments 53 67 74 81 89 94 98 102

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

features 16 Business Profile30A Rentals 28 Business ProfileHurd Real Estate Co. 31 People You Should Know 58 Business ProfileAdventure Marina

VIP Destin Magazine Staff

on the cover

Publisher Greg Alexander

Art Director Priscilla Atkins

Jared & Madison Johnston

Associate Publisher Verla Price

Graphic Design Brian Goins Patti Hall

Publisher’s Assistant Nicole Partridge

Photography by Savannah Vasquez at VIP Destin Magazine Black Tie Ball

Advertising Stephanie Alvarez Kristin Moffitt Verla Price Content Creator Anna Stockton

Contributing Writers/ Photographers Greg Alexander Zhalman Harris Alicia Noble Harley S. Sampson, Jr. Anna Stockton Savannah Vasquez VIP Founder Jeff Watson April 2022 | 7

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letter from the Associate Publisher Sunshine on My Sholders The John Denver song “Sunshine on My Shoulders” rings in my mind each year as the cold of winter melts away and brings us the promise of new beginnings. I feel happier as I welcome sunrise earlier in the mornings and find things to do outside in the longer evening hours. Then, planning starts for the warmer weather. I clean up the RV and look for routes that pass wineries on the way to the mountains, where I ride dual-sport motorcycles with friends, visit family in West Virginia, and just chill at campsites along the way. Some of my neighbors become gardeners and lawn care experts as they plant new flowers and bushes and start the unending battle to kill the dreadful Florida fire ants. As you read this month’s features centering around homes, gardens, and real estate, you will certainly enjoy Adventure Out as we highlight the joys of relaxing in your own backyard. I like to entertain; however, I often overbuy food and beverages, leaving me with excess to store -- so if you are like me, this month’s Swizzle will be helpful as it is fi lled with tips on stocking your home bar. One of our own exclusive events is recapped in this issue where you will find local business people enjoying recognition as Best In Destin winners. We at VIP Destin Magazine are thrilled each year to greet the winners on the red carpet and spend a few moments with each person attending. Check out featured photos from the Black Tie Ball awards ceremony where guests proudly posed for our team of photographers during the cocktail party, dinner, and on the stage. If you know of a non-profit or charity hosting an event you would like to see featured in VIP Destin Magazine, please call me. We love supporting as many non-profit causes as possible. Thank YOU for reading VIP Destin Magazine; please be kind, courteous, and shop local.

Associate Publisher 850-502-7970 Verla@VIPDestin.com

Be on the lookout for our VIP Destin Ambassadors, Joe & Lea Capers, at area events. 10

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VIP Destin at Hilton Sandestin

Debbie West & Carmen Ionascu

Amy Jimeniz & Tanya Rauch

Jeff & Heather Jourdan

Crescendo!

Main Event S

photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

infonia is the area’s only professional symphony orchestra and every year they host Crescendo! -- an exciting cultural extravaganza to raise funds for its educational and community-engagement programs. Known for presenting the highest quality concerts on the northern Gulf Coast, Sinfonia ‘redefines’ charitable events with this experience that celebrates the cultural and culinary arts by showcasing world-class vintners, celebrity chefs, expert spirit purveyors, amazing auction items, and award-winning musical guests. This three-day event culminates with the Crescendo! Main Event, held at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa on February 27. This Carnivale themed event showcased hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting, a silent auction, a seated lunch, and a musical performance. With decorative masks, sparkles, and color galore, the crowd hummed with conversation, laughter, and excitement. Proceeds from Crescendo! benefit Sinfonia’s programs which include Sinfonia Youth Orchestra, Arts in Medicine with Sacred Heart Hospital, and elementary school programs in Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

Nancy Stanley, Jane Brocato & Lea Capers

John Hammonds & Charlotte Caroom

Dawn Jordan & Maleah Richardson

Janis & Don Bishop

Dr. Youla Noumeh & Steve Harley April 2022 | 13

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VIP Destin at Crescendo! Main Event

John Choquer & Gwendolyn Bercher

Pat Clay, Renee Krul, Cindy Campbell & Tami Bilbro

Dr. Angela Fiorita-Day & Rose Ann Fiorita

Jim & Barry Johnson

Christian Shiver & Caroline McFarlin

Holly & Jack Prescott

Diane Neuman, Susan Burch, Beth Clavier & Traci McQuillen 14

Kristin Moffitt & Dani Aylsworth

Beverly & Larry Sassano

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Susan Stencil, Deb Nissley & Gwyn Wendt

Connie Yarbro & Betty White

Destin’s premier luxury yachting experience. Thank you for voting us Best New Business! Enjoy the beautiful scenery Destin, Florida has to offer with a group or in a romantic setting. We have a variety of charter types so you can be sure to choose the one that’s right for you!

Helga Barraza, Anna Lutz & Adriana Goode

PROPENSITY OFFERS

• Private ½ Day & Full Day Charters • Private Sunset and Dolphin Cruises • Thursday Night Fireworks Cruise

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS

• European Luxury Yacht. Princess V72 • Professional Captain and Crew • Covered Seating on the Bow and Stem

New pickup location at Heron Harbor! Maureen Bierman, Verla Price & Steven Franco

850-80-YACHT • HollowayYachts.com April 2022 | 15

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Business Profile

Rent Some Fun! F

or the person who expects something more for fun and adventure, 30a Rental Company offers an ideal luxury experience. 30a Rental Company is home to 30a Pontoon Rental, 30a Yacht Charters, 30a Beach Buggy Rental, 30a Slingshot Rental, and Destin Slingshot Rental. Their impressive menu of water activities includes Executive Yacht Charters on a beautiful 75-foot Princess Yacht, Luxury 150 hp tritoon rentals -- try the double-decker option with a water slide for even more fun. They even offer Dolphin Cruises and Sailboat Excursions. The Luxury Pontoon rentals include 6 or 9-hour Captained or Non-Captained experiences. Guests can rent a variety of add-ons including floating pads Yolo Boards Tubing Coolers Premium Sound, and GoPro style cameras. 30a Rental Company’s unique and exotic car rentals include 4-Passenger Beach Buggy Rentals, Slingshot Rentals, and the new European style Vanderhall Rentals. Devin Bese and his family were escaping a Colorado winter by visiting Santa Rosa Beach where they attended a Sunday morning church service. There, Devin met Pastor Michael Knapp and the two hit it off. Michael with 6 children and Devin with 5 had much in common. The new friends collaborated on ways to make a secondary income by doing something fun. Michael has an extensive background in marketing and product development, Devin has over 20 years of experience in information technology, and neither of them had ever owned a boat. In July 2018, despite their lack of boat knowledge, they bought a fun, old, double-decker pontoon with a water slide -within two weeks they blew the engine. This was the beginning of their business. Their mission statement is, “To honor God in everything we do and bring joy to people while doing it.” Michael noted, “If God isn’t pleased with what we do, then we don’t need to be doing it.” With months of trial and error, they focused on doing everything to make the customer happy. Starting the business in mid-season allowed them time to spend the next few months regrouping. They purchased 3 more boats in 2019 and quickly realized the need for high quality boats. In 2021 they moved from 115 hp pontoons to luxury 150 hp single and double-decker tritoons. These larger, more expensive boats are approximately 2-3 times faster and smoother, with a more comfortable riding e perience -- not what you typically find at a rental company.

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In 2021, realizing their growth potential was inhibited by using a public dock, they decided to add land vehicles. Again, wanting to do something fun, they purchased Polaris Slingshots (aka Batmobiles) and Beach Buggies. The Slingshots are well equipped with lots of bells and whistles. The Beach Buggies -- modeled after the 1965 Volkswagon Beach Buggy are gas powered, have bluetooth stereo, and are super fun to drive. Everywhere you go in one, expect to have your picture snapped. The Beach Buggies have been a fabulous replacement for golf carts due to increasing changes in golf cart rules. They are street legal and can go anywhere a typical car can go. In 2022 they decided to do something totally different and purchased Vanderhall Carmels -- a classically refined demonstration of art on wheels. The 194 hp Vanderhall has bluetooth stereo and 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. This Ultimate Vacation Rental Experience has a fabulous, sporty yet sophisticated European design. Their lineup now includes 7 Slingshots, 2 Beach Buggies, and 2 Vanderhalls. Continuing to grow to satisfy demand, they branched out even further by offering Luxury Yacht Charters and Sailboat Excursions. The Yacht Charter is a beautiful 75-foot, V72 Princess Yacht that accommodates up to 12 people. The Sailboat excursions, available in June, will accommodate 6. When 30a Rental company started, they operated under the name 30a Pontoon Rental. With expanded products, they had outgrown their name. The change to 30a Rental Company is a better reflection of what they do and allows them an opportunity to expand to other services. Boats at 30a Rental Company cater to folks wanting a more luxurious experience. Along with the larger engines and larger boats, what sets them apart from others is their location. Instead of a 1 to 1.5-hour drive into Destin from the 30a area, 30a Rental Company clients can be at their dock in 25 minutes or less. Additionally, their pontoon rentals are 6 and 9-hour trips as compared to 4 and 8.

Luxury Pontoons are rented at Charles E Cessna Landing, 1831 N. Co. Hwy 393 in Santa Rosa Beach. Rentals are reserved by calling 850.220.6400 or through the website 30aRentalCompany.com.

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Vehicles are in multiple locations with several at 4552 US 98 West in Santa Rosa Beach in front of Furniture South. Slingshots are located in Destin at hotels and other facilities. Yacht Charters begin in the Destin Harbor.

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VIP Destin at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

MARCH 19, 2022 photos by Coastal Reflections, Zhalman Harris, Paul Kalis Photography,

Harley S. Sampson, Jr. & Savannah Vasquez

F

or nine years straight, VIP Destin Magazine has hosted the winners of the Best In Destin contest for an elegant evening including a cocktail reception, dinner, awards, and dancing. March 19, 2022, was noted as the best Black Tie Ball yet. The excitement was palpable as attendees to the exclusive, invitation only event arrived with a red-carpet welcome. Photographers were shooting to capture every moment as the guests arrived, as they mingled, and as they celebrated. Violinists entertained during the cocktail hour while guests networked and entertained themselves at three different photo stations. Balloons and flowers were aplenty, creating the ideal mood for celebrating. When the ballroom opened, a delicious dinner service began. Awards presentations got underway as each winner present walked the stage to accolades and received their award. The winners expressed their gratitude to VIP Destin Magazine for offering the platform for the Readers’ Choice Awards, as well as to their patrons for their confidence in voting for them. Guests remained on site after the awards to continue celebrating while many continued having fun with the various photobooth opportunities. VIP Destin Magazine is honored to showcase a recap from the evening in the following pages. VIP Destin Magazine publisher, Greg Alexander noted, “Having this opportunity for readers to express their devotion and appreciation to the many businesses that make the Destin area so great is quite an honor to all of us at the magazine.”

@RenewMedSpaFwb

S P A AT RENEW AESTHETICS

@TheSpaAtRenew

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VIP Destin at the Black Tie Ball

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WE’RE HONORED. Thank you for making Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa an awardwinning resort! While we’re honored by these titles, the loyalty of guests and businesses—who return in waves year after year to gather and reconnect on our beautiful white sand beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast—is truly our greatest honor.

2022 BEST IN DESTIN AWARDS • Best Steakhouse, Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood • Best Place to Spoil Her, Serenity by the sea Spa

See all our awards and the steps we have taken to safely welcome your group at: Meetings.HiltonSandestinBeach.com | 888-519-2089 | #HiltonSandestin

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• Best Hotel, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa • Best Wedding Venue, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

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Business Profile

Bringing a Personal Touch to a Professional Service

A

fter running a successful business for thirty years, Gene Hurd decided to retire from that and join his wife, Amanda, in real estate. After forming a team and building a business that soared, they considered creating their own boutique brokerage firm and finally decided to just do it. Gene Hurd is the Broker of Hurd Real Estate & Co. and with Amanda by his side -- the sky is the limit!

Thank you for voting us ... • Real Estate Professional Female • Real Estate Professional Male THANK YOU,

Gene & Amanda 28

With a strong team in place, Hurd Real Estate & Co. is proud to service a large portion of the Gulf Coast. With an office in beautiful Gulf Breeze and one located among the quaint villages along County Hwy 30A, Hurd Real Estate & Co. eagerly serves buyers, sellers, and investors all the way from Perdido Key to Panama City and everything in between. With a mission statement of, “We Bring a Personal Touch to a Professional Service,” this group of realtors goes above and beyond to make sure the client is always satisfied.

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# 1 RE A L E S T A T E T EA M, 2 019- 2 1!

Hurd Real Estate & Co. is deeply rooted and involved in the community by giving back to various causes. Some of their favorites are Covenant Care in Pensacola and in Panama City and Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida holds a special place in their hearts. Having raised six kids together in the community, Amanda and Gene Hurd have a strong love for giving back. It is a fact that it takes a village in this day and age to raise children and the Hurds are excited to share their success in doing so. Currently, Hurd Real Estate & Co. is made up of twelve professionals specializing in all things Real Estate including but not limited to investment property, second homes, military relocation,

90 Spires Lane, Suite 6A Santa Rosa Beach Fl 32459 306 Gulf Breeze Parkway Gulf Breeze Fl 32561

selling, buying, 1031 exchanges, beachfront … the list goes on. Their experience is varied, and they have achieved great success in each of these areas. Having been named the Best Real Estate Team in Pensacola for the past 3 years along with being recognized for the top female agent and male agent speaks volumes about their accomplishments and abilities. They go above and beyond no matter the size of the transaction. In addition to their impressive work ethic, The Hurd Team has been recognized several years in a row for being one of the highest producers in the area. When you form a relationship with a HURD, it’s for a lifetime! They are not just selling real estate, they are in the business of building lifelong relationships.

Give us a call! Gene ~ 850.565.0018 Amanda ~ 850.375.3570 April 2022 | 29

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People You Should Know

W

e live in one of the most beautiful places in the country. The Real Estate and home market here is now stronger than ever, but searching for a house is only the first step -- then you need to furnish and decorate it, make sure your family is breathing the freshest air possible, and protect the space you’ve created with top notch security. The professionals in our community are hands down, some of the best in the business. Destin is an extremely sought-after place to visit and live. Our local community is packed with experts ready to help you with your

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every need. Whether you need flooring and countertops, a mortgage loan, a property management firm, or are searching for your forever home… Destin has got you covered. Once you’ve found an abode to call your own, you need to personalize it into a cozy oasis in which to create years of memories with family and friends. Our community is blessed with resources that can cater to every style and personality. So, get to know some of our community’s best real estate and home related professionals, and let them help you make your house into a home.

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People You Should Know

Nick Dever

What is your hometown, what brought you to The Emerald Coast? I was born and raised in Warner Robins, GA. After 5th grade, my family got military orders to move to Ramstein, Germany, where we lived for 5 years before getting orders to move to the Emerald Coast in March 2012. So, I’ve been here for 10 years so far. Tell us about your job. I’m a luxury real estate agent with Hurd Real Estate & Co. I study the local real estate market daily and successfully navigate buyers, investors, and sellers through the sales process. I’m a very detailed, organized, and explanatory person. Being the product of two teachers, I explain the process in a way you’d expect to be taught a lesson in school. What led you to choose this profession? I’ve wanted to be a real estate investor ever since I had a real concept of money and investing. I got licensed in March 2019 with the idea that I would be a sponge, making a point to learn something new every day. Then, when the day finally comes that I’d be able to purchase my first property I’d be confident in my ability to spot a solid investment. lus I wor ed many customer service jobs before and genuinely love helping and interacting with people so real estate fit that mold as well. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? From a familial stance, my biggest accomplishment is being someone that my little brother can look up to and be inspired by. I’ve always wanted to set a good example for him and show him that this world is what you make of it, not what it makes of you. From a professional standpoint, I have two. The first was that I found the incredible opportunity to wor with urd eal state & Co. We’re a brokerage sure, but more than that we are all one big family. None of us are in competition with each other and want nothing but the best for everyone here and that’s incredibly rare to find in this business. y second biggest professional accomplishment would be that I sold and closed on $15.3 million dollars in January this year. Closing such a large amount provided me a different perspective of this career and it’s only fired me up to push even harder! What do you like best about Destin? The life that comes with living in Destin. I’m a people person and people are not in short supply in Destin. ot to mention I love to fish and used to be first mate on a charter boat in Harborwalk Village for a few years. The beaches could be considered one of the Wonders of The World and there’s tons of originality to Destin. I can’t get through the day without… Feeling like I’ve gone, at least, one step further in my life and career. What are your biggest professional challenges? Rising interest rates. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? NDever Through Life, The Story of an Overactive Brain What three things do you need to be successful in this job? onfidence in yourself and abilities. bility to adapt to chan in mar et conditions. ersonable mpathy. What is the last thing you Googled? McNeese Title LLC. I needed the address for a contract.

850.225.5492 Nick@HurdRealEstate.org 32

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People You Should Know

Amanda Hurd

What is your hometown, what brought you to The Emerald Coast? I am from Huntsville, Alabama – the Tennessee Valley. I’ve lived here 16 or so years. My love for the “beach life” is truly what brought me to Florida. The Emerald Coast was always a favorite destination for our family over the years and it already felt like home. What is your profession? I am a Real Estate Agent and Co-owner of Hurd Real Estate & Co. What led you to choose this profession? My husband - Gene Hurd thought this would be a good path for me years ago. With my experience in sales and public interaction it seemed like a good idea. He’s always right! It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? My proudest accomplishment is being a mother. Gene and I have raised 6 kids together and I would say this is my WHY. My career has been very rewarding in so many ways. Every single buyer or seller that we represent is a new relationship. The relationship built turns into a forever friendship. Our most recent accomplishment of opening our new bro era e and addin an office on is somethin we are still smiling from ear to ear about. We have so many people to thank and look forward to servicing from Perdido Key to Panama City. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play your role? Sarah Michelle Gellar What do you like best about Destin? Besides Real Estate and all of the beautiful beaches - SHOPPING AND DINING!!! I can’t get through the day without… Talking to my children and COFFEE. What are your biggest professional challenges? This is a hard question. I’m my own worst critic. I want a WIN WIN for everyone and can be a bit of a perfectionist. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? Will the Real Amanda Beth Hurd Please Stand Up What three things do you need to be successful in this job? onfidence communication s ills and constant continuin education of the industry and market. What is the last thing you Googled? Concerts in May – What can I say?!! I love music festivals!!!

850-375-3570 Amanda@hurdrealtor.com April 2022 | 33

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People You Should Know

Tara Johnson

Tell us where you are from. Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada, is my hometown. I am from a beautiful farmin fishin area in ast oast anada. I lived in aui I for several years wor in in eal state with arriott at the aui cean lub then after livin in ail for a season and no ville T . I ended up movin to Destin for wor . een here since and love it. What is your profession? I speciali e in investment rental properties on The etchersid Team with orcoran everie. I have also been wor in on the rental side for acasa for years and it has allowed me to row my nowled e of the short term rental mar et. I am rateful to learn more every day and to be able to share that nowled e with my clients loo in for an investment and or vacation property. What led you to choose this profession? I love connectin with people and real estate ust seemed li e a natural fit. rom the moment I moved to this area I fell in love with the beauty and with how welcomin the people are. I love bein the one to wor from start to finish with families investin in properties in the anhandle. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? y two ama in ids are my most important accomplishment. side from that bein a top performer in many different sales positions over the years has iven me the opportunity to row and become more nowled eable to better assist my clients. oinin The etchersid Team and orcoran everie in has also been a reat opportunity in my career. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role? achel c dams since she is a anadian ori inally. he is successful at wor but is nown for ivin bac to others. What do you like best about Destin? Destin brin s people from all over the . ein on the ulf brin s a peaceful feelin and some of the most ama in views. It has a stron outhern feel as well from the people to the food which I definitely have rown to love. It is truly a special place. I can’t get through the day without… eelin rateful. What are your biggest professional challenges? ein prepared to always be learnin and rowin and to never be sta nant in this mar et. It is so important to be always ainin nowled e throu h each sale and purchase so that we can always be doing the best for our clients. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? It’s ot the Destination but the ourney What does it take to be successful in this job? elf motivation the desire to ive people your best every day and the ability to not beat yourself up on the toughest days, but to be grateful that each day brin s new and e citin opportunity. What is the last thing you Googled? Definitely new recipes to try.

850.269.3758 | 4014 Commons Drive W, Suite 100, Destin, FL 32541 tara.johnson@corcorangroup.com | tara.searchhomesindestinfl.com 34

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People You Should Know

Jodi Ketchersid

What is your hometown, what brought you to The Emerald Coast? My hometown is Omaha, Nebraska, I lived with my brother during law school. He moved to Destin and we actually followed him. I have lived here since 1999. What is your profession? I am a real estate agent and team leader of a group of amazing real estate professionals. What led you to choose this profession? I chose this profession because I felt like my undergrad in interior design and law degree coupled with a marketing background would be a good combination. I feel I can help more people whether they are looking for a primary, or a rental property. I love helping buyers, sellers, and my amazing team. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? My proudest accomplishments are my children – Jessica is 35 and a P.A. in New Orleans. Abbi is 22, has a year of undergrad left and is about to start graduate school. Morgan lives in Pensacola She is 20 years old and she is studying to go to medical school. Trey is 10 and Wyatt is 9 – they are my late-in-life little men. They are my life – all of them. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role? I think Meryl Streep – I think she could nail my crazy life down. What do you like best about Destin? I was born in Gainesville and went to graduate school in Miami and honestly, before moving to Destin, I had not even heard of Destin. The Emerald Coast literally has the most beautiful beaches in North America. We have the clear water, we have white sand - there is no beach prettier than right here. The schools are fantastic and the people have that Southern charm, they really do, it is not like the rest of Florida. It can get a little crowded in the summer, but it is home and we love to share our beautiful beaches. I can’t get through the day without… I can’t et throu h the day without coffee. Definitely coffee. y phone starts about 6 am and I may be up, but I don’t start until that 2nd cup…. What are your biggest professional challenges? My biggest professional challenge is that I am a micromanager – type A personality. I work hard and I expect the same out of people I work with. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? The Pursuit of Happiness What does it take to be successful in this job? The people that work for me that I depend on have to be as dedicated as I am, relationships are so essential, that goes for clients as well as other agents, lenders, inspectors, title companies, and honesty. We are all running hard these past few years – and we need each other to make things work. What is the last thing you Googled? Pizza - I googled Pizza #boring.

850.830.5634 | 4014 Commons Drive W, Suite 100, Destin, FL 32541 jodi.ketchersid@corcorangroup.com | jodi.searchhomesindestinfl.com 36

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People You Should Know

Stacie Liao

What is your hometown? My hometown is Archdale, North Carolina, a small rural town next to High Point, which is the Furniture Capital of the World. I grew up around a lot of furniture factories and everything to support them. My father was a manager of a textile plant which produced elastic yarn used in socks. What is your profession? I am a Luxury Real Estate Specialist for Corcoran Reverie. I act as a strong advocate for families and investors looking for their dream property, vacation home, or looking to sell property. Real estate is a long-held passion: combining a well-honed ability to meet measurable goals, a natural skill for relationship building, and an appreciation of interior design. I am also a Registered Nurse and serve on the Crises Response team for the State of Florida. What led you to choose this profession? I had taken real estate classes years ago, and when buying my current home/investment property I decided to learn all I could and got my real estate license in the process. I found a real love and passion around all things real estate especially the investment side of the business. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? First and foremost, proudest to be a mom to two beautiful children. They make me so proud every day and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. Building relationships, helping others, and charity work in the local area are also proud accomplishments. I am a lifetime volunteer of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). My children volunteer with me and have developed a love for this organization. I especially love that my real estate brokerage encourages charity work and rewards/recognizes agents for their contributions to the community. What do you like best about Destin? Destin is the most beautiful place in my opinion. It’s hard to find any place that has what Destin has to offer, beautiful white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, friendly people. Of all the places I have lived, the people of this community are some of the most friendly and happy. I can’t get through the day without… …coffee! If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? She Never Gave Up What does one need to be successful in this job? To be successful you must provide great service and knowledge in real estate as well as develop relationships. The client always comes first! What is the last thing you Googled? Wordle

203.400.9487 | 4014 Commons Drive W, Suite 100, Destin, FL 32541 stacie.liao@corcorangroup.com | staciedestin30a.com April 2022 | 37

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VIP Destin at HarborWalk Village

DESTIN CHAMBER

Business Jason Belcher & Shane Moody

After Hours

Dr. Shady Henien & Victoria Miller

photos & story by Savannah Vasquez

F Elizabeth Spies & Terésa Hebert

Caroline Krauser & Michele Osterlof

Renee & David Butler

ebruary’s Destin Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours had a touch of Mardi Gras, as members visited businesses within the HarborWalk Village for a good, networking time. “This Business After Hours is sponsored by HarborWalk Village and it’s Mardi Gras themed,” said Destin Chamber Vice President Elizabeth Spies. “There is a scavenger hunt throughout the village and our members are walking around visiting the businesses and will come back with a filled-out card to be registered for door prizes.” Businesses located throughout the village offered treats such as king cakes, cocktails, food items, and activities for participants to enjoy. The band Shake Down Duo offered jazzy tunes for the event while Coastal Reflections photo booth gave members something fun to download to remember the night.

Christy Matthews & Brandon Peterson

Neal Kelly & Leslie Moland

Brandon & Brandee Paddock, Peggy Moravec, Sandy Isenhart & Ranee Blood April 2022 | 39

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People You Should Know

Brian K. LoCicero

What is your hometown? When I think of “home,” the Destin-30A area is the only place that comes to mind. Growing up and living along the Emerald Coast’s shores is a dream that every visitor hopes to accomplish, sooner rather than later. For me and most locals, it is nothing short of a blessing to have the opportunity to live and work in an area with abundant natural resources to enjoy—from the beach and bay to Northwest Florida’s coastal dune lakes and forests. This is home! What is your profession? As a Luxury REALTOR® and the founding member of Keller Williams’ Be on the Coast Real Estate Group, my focus is to help clients buy, sell, and invest in luxury property investment opportunities in both commercial and residential markets located in Northwest Florida, from 30A to Destin, Panama City to Pensacola, and every beach town in between. Additionally, I specialize in 1031 Tax Exchanges, which many of my clients use as a vehicle to increase their financial property portfolio. What led you to choose this profession? With a degree in business and a background in banking and entrepreneurship, helping clients achieve their goals of home ownership or ac uirin investment property was a natural fit for me. I brin a fresh approach to the marketing of properties for sale utilizing the latest technology and a natural ability to negotiate deals on behalf of my clients. career in real estate provides a e ible schedule which allows me to mi business and pleasure. ou’ll often find me ta in our clients boatin huntin olfin or fishin . dditionally bein a T affords me the opportunity to help others obtain their dream home -- be it a military family’s first home in the area or a savvy investor’s fifth rental income producin property. Few careers offer this much. If you’re interested a career in Real Estate, call me. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? My philosophy has been, that I don’t measure success through my accomplishments, achievements, or awards, but through the satisfaction of my clients. The amount of repeat business and referrals that my clients provide says it all. If forced to name at least one accomplishment… it would be that our Be on the Coast Real Estate team won the Top Commercial Realtor Award and Best Realtor in Destin in our area three years in a row. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead? It would be pretty cool if Matthew McConaughey played me and sat down at the closing table after a tough negotiation that I won and said, “Alright, alright, alright! Let’s close.” What do you like best about Destin? What makes it unique? Clients often ask this question, as they look at property in the area. My answer is always the same: “If you’re looking for a family friendly beach town with award winning restaurants, awesome art galleries, quaint boutiques, challenging golf courses, wildlife, nightlife, sunny and 75 degree weather, deep sea fishin and of course su ar white sand beaches the Destin area is calling your name.” Our hometown tends to be one of those places that visitors fall in love with because of the relaxed pace, clean air, physical beauty, and warm climate… and suddenly the visitor wants to be a full time “local.” I can help with that, obviously!

Brian K. LoCicero REALTOR® Be On The Coast REAL ESTATE Group 850.739.3800 | Brian@BeOnTheCoast.com April 2022 | 41

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People You Should Know

Crystal Newborn

Where are you from? Destin is my hometown. When I met my husband he was living in Colorado and I was in Georgia. Once we started discussing marriage, we knew that neither of us wanted to move to the other’s state, so we needed to come up with a compromise. We spent about three months traveling around the eastern part of the country checking out different areas and businesses and when we hit Destin, we knew we were home! What is your profession and give a brief description of what you do? I am a Real Estate Agent devoted to serving and truly understanding the uni ue needs of af uent home buyers and sellers to successfully reach the goals of everyone I represent. What led you to choose this profession? Working closely with my husband, who has over 35 years of experience building custom residential homes and high-end commercial properties, led me to a career in real estate. We have been investing, purchasing, remodelin and ippin properties ourselves to ether for over years. Becoming a real estate agent just felt the natural thing to do to complement each other in our careers. We both possess a natural repertoire of dynamic qualities that set us apart along with the strong desire to help others successfully achieve their goals. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? My proudest accomplishments are the multiple businesses I have started, built up, managed, and sold. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I love the challenge of taking something from nothing and making it extraordinary. What do you like best about Destin? What makes it unique? What I love most about Destin is the happy energy that vibrates throu hout our little fishin villa e it could possibly be comin from all the dolphins, but who wouldn’t be happy completely surrounded by our gorgeous emerald waters and everything it has to offer. I can’t get through the day without… I can’t get through the day without COFFEE!! Am I the only one that gets excited to go to bed at night because I know when I wake up in the morning I get to have coffee? The sound of the beans grinding and the machine pressin the rounds is a true symphony in the mornin I don’t even get upset that my body naturally wakes me up at 5 am every morning. It’s coffee time! What are your biggest professional challenges? One of the biggest professional challenges for me right now is keeping up with all the technological advances. The majority of most real estate buyers and sellers begin with an online search. The struggle is trying to make sure I am fully represented online. Real estate is relationship-based, and now more often than not those relationships begin on a screen. What three things do you need to be successful in this job? Tireless work ethic, responsiveness, perspective, patience, and integrity. Listening to what clients need and keeping all things calm. Okay, that was 7 but you said “successful.”

850.333.1712 | 4014 Commons Drive W, Suite 100, Destin, FL 32541 crystal.newborn@corcorangroup.com | crystal.searchhomesindestinfl.com 42

| VIPDestinMagazine.com

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People You Should Know

Bryan Stone

What is your hometown, what brought you to The Emerald Coast? I grew up in Waynesville, Ohio. My wife grew up in Crestview, Florida, which is how I ended up on the Emerald Coast. We lived in Atlanta when we were married. We wanted to have children and my wife wanted to be near her family, so we left Atlanta and moved to Destin. I have been here almost 20 years. Tell us about your profession. I am the CEO & Co-founder of HomeFi Corporation. I operate and manage a mortgage company that specializes in digital mortgage solutions. I am also a board member with the Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation which operates the Destin Aquatic Center, Bernie R Lefebvre Aquatic Center in Fort Walton Beach, and the ROC Pool in Crestview. What led you to choose this profession? I met my wife, Sarah, in 2001 at an advertising company in Atlanta where we both worked. We eloped six months after dating. Our employer (at that time) informed us that we were not allowed to vacation together, and that time off together would be a problem going forward. I resigned my position and answered an ad for loan officers on onster.com. The rest is history… What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? My children are by far my greatest accomplishment. My children are the greatest gift my wife ever gave me. Sobriety is also one of my proudest accomplishments. Sobriety is the greatest gift I ever gave myself. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role? James Dean if he were still alive. What do you like best about Destin? What makes it unique? The people are what I li e best about Destin and the people are what make Destin unique. I cannot go anywhere in Destin without seeing a friend. Destin has amazing restaurants, great schools, beautiful beaches, and wonderful people. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Destin is home. Finish this statement; I can’t get through the day without… Swimming, biking, or running. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? Anything is Possible and Other Life Lessons of an Ironman Addict What three things do you need to be successful in this job? Compassion, Honesty, Accountability. What is the last thing you Googled? Tampa ay ays’

schedule.

850.424.7277 | 4476 Legendary Drive, Ste. 202, Destin, FL 32541 bryan@homefi.us | homefi.us/

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THANK YOU FOR VOTING FOR

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3/29/22 11:56 PM


People You Should Know

Ashley Turner

How did you end up on the Emerald Coast? My husband and I grew up in a small town in Illinois. After my husband, Eric, joined the military we traveled for awhile before arriving in the Florida Panhandle. This beautiful, emerald paradise is where we call our home. What is your profession? I am a Lead Buyer’s Specialist with Hurd Real Estate & Co. My role as your realtor is to help you navigate the market and locate the ideal property. Whether the property will be used as a primary, secondary, or an investment opportunity, I am here to create a smooth process tailored to you and your needs. Every transaction is different and having an exceptional Realtor® to assist you in a very important financial venture can ma e an important difference. What led you to choose this profession? rowin up in a small town my two bi est in uences in life each owned a business. Learning a lot about business and relationships through them, and one of them actually saying I should pursue real estate, was all it took for me to work towards that goal. I am grateful for the path that led me to where I am today. What are some of your proudest accomplishments? My two children, Landon and Lyla, are my greatest accomplishment in life. I am also proud to say I have had the opportunity to help so many people find their first home land a beautiful investment property with incredible potential, or secure the ideal vacation home for families to come and create memories in our beautiful area. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play your role? Reese Witherspoon or Cameron Diaz What do you like best about Destin? There is so much to love about Destin! You get that small town feel, with gorgeous clear water and endless opportunities. I call it a “Casual luxury” spot for the whole family that is easily accessible. I can’t get through the day without… Coffee and my iPhone. What are your biggest professional challenges? Low inventory and time management. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? Blessed What three things do you need to be successful in this job? One must have exceptional communication and negotiation skills, be very personable, and have relentless character. What is the last thing you Googled? Homemade noodle recipe.

850.226.2102 Ashley@HurdRealtor.com April 2022 | 45

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People You Should Know

Melissa Walls

Where are you from? My hometown is Alexander City, Alabama. I came to Destin on a family vacation 26 years ago. The beach gave me such peace that I decided at that moment I had to live here full time. What is your profession? I am a Realtor on the Ketchersid Team with Corcoran Reverie. I help buy and sell parcels of paradise along the Emerald Coast. What led you to choose this profession? There were multiple in uences that led me down the path to a profession in Real Estate. Primarily it was the opportunity to help people ust li e me find their happy place at the beach. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments? My son and daughter are by far my proudest accomplishments. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role? Jenna Fischer What do you like best about Destin? What makes it unique? The sunsets are breathtaking! We remain a tight knit community even though we have millions of visitors a year. I can’t get through the day without… ...lap therapy with one of my fur babies. What are your biggest professional challenges? ow housin inventory and heavy traffic in season. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? Rescues, Love, and The Pursuit of a Clean Litter Box What three things do you need to be successful in this job? A great coach, set goals, and build strong relationships with clients and peers.

850.685.5813 | 4014 Commons Drive W, Suite 100, Destin, FL 32541 melissa.walls@corcorangroup.com | melissa.searchhomesindestinfl.com April 2022 | 47

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VIP Destin at Shoreline Church

Jerry & Leslie Sullivan

Christa & Justin Myrick

Travis & Marissa Johnson

Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican

Brokerage Council Awards Gala photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

Kayla O’Leary & Brandi Culhane

D

estin’s Shoreline Church was host to some of the top realtors in Northwest Florida. When the doors opened on February 26, the aroma of Mexican food and the music of Pensacola’s Justin Colvard, an independent country singer/songwriter, welcomed the guests. The attendees had the opportunity to sign up for drawings and learn about the agenda for the evening. After some mingling, conversation, and picture taking at the photo booth, attendees were called to attention by Broker/Owner Jerry Sullivan who described the evening as a “celebration of your success.” A moment of silence was held for those affected by the war in Ukraine. Following the pledge and invocation, attendees enjoyed their meal and the evening’s festivities. With offices all across the Panhandle, Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican agent Stefanie Greenwood said, “We believe there is a direct correlation between positive energy and positive results. Tonight we are celebrating Century 21 Brokers Council of the Emerald Coast.” Will Estell & Laura Hussey Estell

Nick & Cassy DeJulio 48

Melissa Ryan, Natalie Ryan, Melany Hathcock & Brittany McLaughlin

| VIPDestinMagazine.com

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VIP Destin at Cantina Laredo

VIP Destin Magazine Cover Reveal Party

V

photos & story by Alicia Noble

IP Destin Magazine hosted a party at Cantina Laredo on March 4, revealing the cover of the newly released March issue. Gracing the cover was Megan Harrison, President and CEO of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce, and her husband Kris. The Harrisons arrived at the party with their two children, delighted and surprised to see their photo from a recent formal event on the cover of the luxury and financial issue. They posed for a picture next to the large cover display, and Megan even autographed a magazine for a fellow Walton Area Chamber of Commerce member. Guests spent the evening mingling with familiar faces and networking with new friends. You could find people seated throughout the party room, sipping on a complimentary drink, fl ipping through the magazine, and enjoying Cantina Laredo’s delicious homemade chips and salsa.

Stephanie & Steve Holcomb

Bill & Jamie Graves, Linzi & Kirk McConnell 50

Megan, Kris, Grayton & Brecken Harrison

Jorge Saiz & Todd Reeves

Kellyanne Bartleson & Joe Capers

Nicole Partridge, Morag Rosa & Mary Kalkbrenner

| VIPDestinMagazine.com

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3/30/22 12:01 AM


Kevin Rosa, Andrew Lott & Heather Cleveland

food and spirits Melanie Gray, Bill Blanken & Melissa Fertitta

Joshua, Larry & George Cowsert

Established in 2020, Bitterroot Food and Spirits is Destin’s premiere establishment for high-end cuisine and cocktails. Thoughtfully crafted and always fresh, we aim to lead the industry by example. No exceptions, no compromises.

Hours of Operation: Dine In or Take Away Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Monday-Sunday, 4 p.m. Small Bites: Daily from 2:30-4 p.m. Happy Hour: Daily 3-6 p.m.; $5 Old Fashioned Mondays Catering & Events: Let us host your next gathering, in the restaurant or off site!

850-460-8881 4463 Commons Dr West STE A | Destin, FL 32541

Gift Cards Available THANK YOU FOR VOTING US BEST BLOODY MARY AND BEST PLACE FOR A DATE!

Kay Phelan, Clint Viehman & Verla Price April 2022 | 51

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u o y k n a h T FOR VOTING US BEST IN DESTIN!

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3/30/22 11:54 AM


Southern Roots Exposed in this French Estate story by Kersten Bowman

DESTIN quarters

| photos by Dave Warren Real Estate Photography

D

estin has become one of the most sought-after communities in the country. But, why? Not only is the community surrounded by gorgeous emerald coastlines, but it has a family-friendly atmosphere full of small-town charm with big-city events. Taking just over a year to complete and a seven-figure budget, the renovation at 4105 Indian Trail embodies all that Destin has to offer with the perfect combination of unique Southern roots and metropolitan luxury. Located in the heart of Destin, this 11,000 square foot statement property was found in complete disarray on this exclusive street and had become a visual eyesore along our shoreline. To preserve the history and French interior design of this abandoned property or to not -- that was the question. With a cohesive vision for this property and with the community’s best interests, the builder, Jared Irby, president of IrbyBuys. com, began chipping away at stained marble flooring, water-damaged hardwoods, and broken glass window frames. They removed thousands of dollars-worth of cracked, crystal chandeliers and gold hardware along with unclaimed antique furniture. The galley kitchen was gutted, along with the former cigar room and laundry area and the existing staircase was refinished as a showpiece. After 31 dumpster loads of debris, the remaining seven handcarved, wooden fireplace mantels were removed in order to replace the damaged roof in its entirety. Overall, the renovation team started from the bones of the home and worked their way out.” April 2022 | 53

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To complete the project, the builder hired 36 employees from our community. They reconfigured the downstairs living area to focus on the curved archways, allowing the existing architecture to highlight the bay view from each of the main rooms in the home and bring in an abundance of natural light. The flooring was replaced with white oak, along with all doors and windows. The wooden cabinetry was complemented by quartz countertops, stainless and gas appliances, and finally, lighting fixtures throughout the home were updated. The driveway and the expansive porches surrounding the exterior of the home were repoured and coated like new. It was now time for the bells and whistles. During a renovation, it is easy to wonder what the next person would want and who the buyer will be. It was difficult not to wonder who the original family that designed the home was and what they hoped for its future. Every luxury home has its own, personal touch; a distinctive design showcased by the individual that represents themselves, their accomplishments, and their family. 54

| VIPDestinMagazine.com

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Voila! Now this home has a fresh, clean slate for a new family to turn this house into a home. A luxury, 7-bedroom, 8-bathroom home that a family can have the freedom to truly live in, grow into, and make memories. To do so, romantic additional finishes were added including a black iron entry safety gate, a timeless water feature to toss your lucky coins into, a private beach set up expanding 100 feet for sandcastles or sunbathing, additional lighting on the exterior for gatherings or celebrating life events, several new trees planted to swing from, and a new dock for watersports and watercrafts for all ages. With neutral colors and clean lines, the hope is for a family to be able to have their own vision for the property and let the community watch them grow!

Kersten is a Luxury Property Specialist with with Corcoran Reverie. Kersten spearheaded this project and is proud of the end result. Contact Kersten at 251.455.8177, by email kersten.bowman@corcorangroup.com, or follow her on Instagram at @homesbykersten. Kersten is proud to offer this home for sale at $4,950,000. April 2022 | 55

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VIP Destin at Faith Assembly Church

Steven Tector & Damon Byrd

Mike Adkinson, David Butler & Donnie Clark

Walton County Fire Rescue

Charity Cookout

F

photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

ebruary 28 brought warm, sunny weather to Miramar Beach as friends, colleagues, and members of the public gathered at Faith Assembly Church for a charity cookout to benefit Walton County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief, Brad Newsome. Diagnosed with kidney cancer, the charity fundraiser was held to raise funds for Chief Newsome and his family. Attendees were from all walks of life and from places as far away as Wisconsin. Jerry and Cheryl Burri, from Fort Atkinson, WI, were invited by their son, firefighter Chris Burri. Jerry said, “We are honored to support the fundraiser and we are happy to participate.” As the host, Pastor David Butler spoke on behalf of the members of Faith Assembly Church. “We are happy to support our first responder family and Chief Brad Newsome in this time of need.” Pastor Butler continued, “The amount of community support is very touching.” For more information contact Corey Dobridnia, Public Information Officer, Walton County Sheriff’s Office at pio@waltonso.org.

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Javier Knut & Jefferson Sweet

Mr & Mrs. Chris Burri with James

Nancy Hochstetler & Janice Kaufmann

Josh Williams, Michael Serpas & Cole Suggs

Kelvin Lynn & Cristen Pruitt

| VIPDestinMagazine.com

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Business Profile Full Service Family Ties…

A

dventure Marina is a full-service waterfront marina conveniently located in the heart of Fort Walton Beach. In addition to offering new and preowned boats they provide certified service on Yamaha, Mercury, and Suzuki outboard motors. Their repair services range from annual maintenance and warranty repairs to trailer repairs, installation of Minn Kota trolling motors and Garmin marine electronics. Rounding out their full-service offerings, Adventure Marina provides boat storage, wet slips in a private canal, a public boat ramp, fuel dock, bait and tackle, and a variety of boating accessories.

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Owner, Paul Roberts is a Fort Walton Beach native. After 10 years of running a pontoon and jet ski rental operation and a fishing charter company he e perienced a cancer scare and decided it was time to take a break from being on the water day in and day out. He founded Adventure Marina in 2004 and began offering marina service and boat storage. His marine business began to grow and he eventually started selling Sea Hunt boats in addition to his other services. In 2007 Paul had outgrown his location and moved Adventure Marina to the current location at 1201B Miracle Strip Parkway on Okaloosa Island -- property that has been in

the Roberts family since the 60s. Once moved, Adventure Marina continued to grow and e pand their services to local boaters at the most affordable prices possible. They employ two Yamaha Master Technicians -- with only 400 in the nation. Boat rentals have continued to be a huge industry in the area. Because of their pro imity to the new hotels on aloosa Island, ample parking, and private beach, Paul and his team knew it was imperative to offer safe, affordable rentals to visitors wanting to get out on the water. In 2016 they welcomed Ben and Amber Merrell, owners of Power Up Watersports to their facility. Power Up Watersports completed their goal of offering

photos by Zhalman Harris

3/30/22 12:06 AM


H ave an A d ven t uro us D ay!

every boater at all experience and income levels the ability to get on the water from their facility. Adventure Marina’s motto is “We aren’t fancy but we’re family. We strive to take care of each customer’s boat the way we take care of our own.” Their goal is not just to sell you a boat but to welcome customers into their marina family. They strive to educate or assist new boaters so that they can really enjoy the boating lifestyle safely and in style. When a customer leaves Adventure Marina after purchasing their new boat, they typically have the phone number of the owner and a member of each department. Adventure Marina proudly maintains a 98% (CSI) Customer Satisfaction Score with Yamaha.

Visit them at 1201 B

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t dventure arina you will find the full lineup of Tidewater boats -- center consoles that range from 19 to 38 ft and offer families the ability to fish inshore and offshore or go cruising and experience water skiing or tubing. They also sell Xpress aluminum boats. Xpress Boats leads the industry in metal boats and is a versatile and economical choice for those that want to fish the bay and the grass flats or ust cruise in the sound. Their showroom offers a selection of safety equipment, cleaning products, Minn Kota trolling motors, Garmin electronics, and Yamaha self-service items for the do it yourselfer.

iracle Strip ar way Fort Walton Beach F 32548. 850-581-B

Being a family owned and operated business allows Adventure Marina low employee turnover, giving them combined experience, knowledge, and the continuity to provide exceptional service in all aspects of the marine industry. You can find owner aul and his son in the sales offices processing all the financing assisting with sales or doing up eep on the property. aul s wife Amanda manages employee training, accounts payable/receivable, inventory, as well as compliance. Stop by for gas or live bait and you will see daughter Sara working the fuel dock. Clearly, at Adventure Marina, customers are not just a metric goal for a dealership or marina owned by a large out of state corporation -- they are family too.

T 2628 . www.adventuremarina.com.

3/30/22 12:06 AM


VIP Destin at Hurricane Lanes

Raquel & Mike Hernandez

Lon Southerland & Melony Powell

Ashley Bowen & Gwyn Wendt

Pins & Pancakes photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

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he Destin Forward Class of 2022 held a fundraiser on February 4 at Hurricane Lanes in Destin to raise funds for an educational beehive at Destin High School. The pancake, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage breakfast was donated by LuLu’s. Chas Skinner, LuLu’s Assistant General Manager said, “LuLu’s is always about giving back to the community, and we were more than happy to oblige.” After checking in, attendees grabbed their bowling shoes and strolled through the many silent auction items, including a boat trip to Crab Island. Terésa Hebert was the event lead and she said, “The event was a huge success. Not only did we max out the sponsored lanes, but all expectations were exceeded.” A graduate of Destin Forward, Shervin Rassa, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast chimed in on why his team was there, saying, “Being an alumni of the Destin Forward class we came to support the class, network, and have fun.” Destin Forward provides a learning experience where hands-on participation helps students learn about issues facing the Destin community. Participation in the 9-month long class is limited and interested individuals are encouraged to apply early for the class, which starts in August. To learn more about the program and the registration process, check out DestinChamber. com/Destin-Forward.

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Nichole Rivera, Jenna Kilpatrick, Terésa Hebert & Kelly Jasen

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Jeff Justy & Erik Raff

Shervin Rassa, David Armstrong & Rita Cummins

Kim McIntosh, Scott Mitchell & Don Edwards

Greg Durette, Annmarie Pelto & Gail Pelto April 2022 | 61

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VIP Destin at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

EMERALD COAST CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER’S

Gala 2022 photos & story by Alicia Noble

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uests gathered at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa March 12 to kick off the annual Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Gala & Golf Weekend. The weekend’s events were presented by Jim & Tammy Pierce, longtime generous donors to the Advocacy Center and those who the DeFuniak Springs ECCAC location is named after. Tammy is a current member of the board of directors and a past president of the board. Saturday’s coastal chic gala featured a cocktail hour with signature drinks – “The Jim” and “The Tammy” – served in engraved insulated wine glasses to mark the occasion. Dinner was served at 6 pm in the Coral Ballroom. The entire venue was decked out in decorations sponsored by Cindy White Balloon Design, Bright White Marquee, and Brandon and Britny Knox. Guests enjoyed dinner and live entertainment by popular local musicians, The Will Thompson Band, as well as live and silent auctions. The golf tournament took place the following day at Kelly Plantation Golf Club with tee off at 12 pm and a cookout beforehand. Players competed for prizes and raised money for a good cause. The Gala & Golf Weekend is an important annual fundraiser that benefits the children of ECCAC, an organization that provides services at no cost to help identify, treat, and support child victims in abusive situations.

Jennifer & Wade Tucker

Cade & Amy Reedy

Kaymleh & Chris Roberts

Scott & Jennifer Porter

Mike Amiel & Scott Smith

Leighann Elliot & Andrew Franco April 2022 | 63

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VIP Destin at ECCAC Gala 2022

Renee Pellegrino & Julie Porterfield

Jaclyn Coatney & Khaliqa Wheatley

Savannah, Tyler, Aleta & Dave Jefferson

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Shantelle & James Hernandez

Maggie Weaver, Savannah Juneau & Shanelle Lucas

Verla Price & Todd Reeves

Sarah Multon & Sara Sharp

Johnny Mutina & Malayne DeMars

Susan Stencil & Deb Nissley

Meghan Hall, Cindy Cole, Christen Cowgill & Lee Curtis

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Adventure out.. into your own back yard story by Anna Stockton

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long the Florida panhandle, we’re lucky to have so many days where we can comfortably be outside. Our autumns are on point, our winters are mild, the spring, while a bit wet, offers plenty of spectacular days, and the summers are... well, best enjoyed in the shade, but still allow for plenty of fun. Making the most of the outdoors is part of the culture of Florida, starting in our own backyards.

In order to make the most of your outdoor space, you’ve got to start with the basic -- a good foundation. If you don’t already have a patio foundation, using pavers or even pouring a concrete slab are easy ways to start the transformation from ordinary to oasis. The next step is all about throwing some shade on it, because anyone who’s sat in the Florida sun for any length of time knows how important it is to get a little break from the rays. Adding a roof extension from your house is always an option, however pergolas and gazebo roofs are a beautiful way to spruce up your space while offering some muchneeded shade. Planting flowering vines or ivy that will grow and amble into the structure adds a touch of beauty all its own. Another basic when it comes to your outdoor space is good, solid, outdoor furniture. Your outdoor furniture should be stylish and comfortable, as well as being able to withstand the elements, and as we all know, Florida has some powerful elements. Another idea to make your backyard the place everyone wants to be is to add a fire pit. Sure, you may not use it year-round, but it’ll make those nights you can use it that much cozier. Whether you choose wood burning or gas, built in or stand alone, fire pits are a great gathering April 2022 | 67

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space for friends and family. Fountains are another way to add some pizzazz to your outdoor oasis. Adding a simple wall-mounted fountain or going big and bold with a large stand-alone fountain, the calming effect is the same and you’ll create a tranquil environment to enjoy on your most stressful days. Outdoor speakers and games like cornhole are both small things you can do that bring big results to your backyard and make it party ready. For those wanting to go big with their backyard plans, installing a pool makes a huge splash in your backyard fun. While it’s quite a commitment, with our warm climate, you definitely get your money’s worth from a pool in Florida. And the good news is, these days, pools come in all shapes and sizes to fit your needs. Standard pools for family fun, lap pools for those who enjoy a good swim workout, and soaking pools for those of us who enjoy a bit more, ummm.... leisurely activities. Another way to go big in your backyard is an outdoor kitchen. Just like with a pool or your home kitchen, you can make your outdoor kitchen suit your lifestyle. If you’re passionate about grilling, making a large built-in grill a part of your kitchen will have you outside grilling for your visiting relatives like a champ. If you need a few drinks in order to be around those visiting relatives, a wet bar complete with an ice machine should definitely be a part of your outdoor kitchen design. Whether you decide to make large or small changes to your backyard, or whether you host big or intimate gatherings, or even just catch some quiet time in your own tranquil space, enjoy your adventure out.... into your own backyard.

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VIP Destin at WaterVue Fort Walton Beach

Women UNITED photos & story by Savannah Vasquez

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ore than 100 women gathered at WaterVue on March 5, to celebrate the first meeting of Women United Emerald Coast, a group of businesswomen from Okaloosa and Walton counties committed to making a difference in lives of underserved women in the local community. The brunch event was sponsored by United Way Emerald Coast as an introduction to the group and to set the focus of the inaugural year’s giving campaign. “When we looked at the work of our organization and where there were gaps, we saw some particular focus areas that our women would want to rally around,” said United Way Emerald Coast CEO Kelly Jasen. “We are just excited to have women empower other women and girls here in the community and that is really what this group is going to be about.” Jasen explained that official membership into Women United requires an unrestricted gift of $500 a year to United Way Emerald Coast. Those gifts will be invested into the Okaloosa and Walton County communities by way of grants to area non-profits. Members are then eligible to participate in exclusive events like the brunch, networking, volunteer opportunities, and even advocacy trips to the state capitol. After enjoying a photobooth, coffee cart, bubbly, and catered brunch, guests were encouraged to vote on which focus Women United would take in the upcoming year: mental health or education. Both are commonly overlooked areas of struggle for women in the local area. “We are excited to shake it up and see what Women United Emerald Coast becomes,” Jasen said.

Kelly Jasen & Terésa Herbert

Jessica Speas & Rosalyn Wik

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Laurie Markoe & CareySue Beasley

Mary Fletcher & Janet Parker

Brittnee Orr & Alice Radomski

Alexis Tibbetts & Kim Cox

Carol Rogers, Ashley Flowers, Michelle Case & Ashley Mason

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Meg Erwin, Robbie Truax & Allison Webb

Sarah Fraser, Diane Fraser & Marlee Tucker

Donna Tashik, Kari Painter, Pam Woodall & Julie Green

Abigail Davis, Corey Birger & Katie Bast April 2022 | 71

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VIP Destin at Beachworx

Susan Young & Natalie Leon

Tera Keister, Amina Ali & Annie Wainman

Bobby Parker & Steven Franco

Young Professionals

VIP Meet & Greet photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

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estin Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals (YP) met at Beachworx on March 15. Attendees enjoyed refreshments and a BBQ meal prepared by Redneck Riviera Smokers. The agenda for the evening was announced by Bobby Parker during his opening comments. After thanking sponsors Beachworx and Five Channels, the attendees split out into separate groups to listen and learn from area leaders. The VIPs included: City of Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis, Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council Chairman Ken Wampler, Destin Chamber Chairman of the Board Jennifer Gutai Comella, and Destin Chamber President & CEO Shane Moody. Designated stations allowed the VIPs to move throughout the building and share their wisdom with the YPs. Regardless of the speaker, there was a common theme revolving around leadership and giving back. “Leadership is not step-by-step, it’s a mindset. Every incident is independent of itself and has to be dealt with separately,” said Shane Moody. Mayor Jarvis spoke about Destin’s future. “We need more community involvement, cultural development, and sports. The key thing is to be a part of the community.”

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Liz Midland & Brandon Nicholson

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Michael Hoover & Chris Cumby

Jennifer Gutai Comella & Gary Jarvis

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Relax and enjoy our crystal clear waters while cruising along the Choctawhatchee Bay. Covered from the sun by a provided bimini top, you can relax and enjoy the breeze while floating at Crab Island, our local hang out spot.

BOAT RENTALS FIRST N TA K OF FUEL IS ON US! That’s right: s No fuel charge for your first tank!

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• Boats for 10-12 people • Available for half day (4hrs) or a full day (8hrs). • Trained employees provide instructions on how to operate your boat • Provided directions, a map of the local waterways, and lifejackets • Your rides are fueled and ready by the appointed time.

(850) 461-1034 1201B Miracle Strip Parkway SE • Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

Follow us on social media: @PowerUpWatersports

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ou open up any national home magazine or catalog of fine home decorations and you see it wallpaper ots and lots of wallpaper. No need to chec the date of that publication to ma e sure it s not from 1981 wallpaper is in style and it is hot but it s not your grandma s delicate rose wall coverings. Today s wallpaper trends are bigger and bolder than ever story by Anna Stockton

WOW with Wallpaper

Go Big and Go Home The past few years of staying at home more have made many of us fall back in love with our homes and look for ways to improve and take control of our living space. One big way people have done this is through wallpaper, including one trend that leads to big changes. Papering a large wall or an entire room is bold beautiful and definitely on point with today’s wallpaper trends. The possibilities are endless when it comes to transforming the look of your space using wallpaper -- so papering your whole dining room, why not? Your living room? Go big or go home! Your bedroom walls? Bring. It. On.

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Big Prints, Small Spaces If papering an entire wall or room is too much of a commitment for you, never fear, you can still participate with the wallpaper trend by sprucing up your small spaces. Powder rooms, laundry rooms, and even large walk-in closets are all great spaces for wallpaper. Go retro in your half-bath with an art deco design that’ll have your guests going back in time, or go glam in your walkin closet with a velvety choice that’ll put Lady Gaga’s P-P-Poker Face to the test. Laundry room wallpaper can go in any direction, patterned, fun, or even laundry themed are all possibilities. Maybe you’ll enjoy the décor so much you won’t mind folding all those clothes that are piled up... or maybe not.

Go Wild, Baby Bring out your wild side with this next wallpaper trend. That’s right, animals and tropical prints are wildly popular choices in wallpaper these days. Prints like peacocks and jungle scenes make a colorful and bold statement in any room of your house. These untamed prints can transform your boring room into an oasis with a vintage bird print, or into a tropical rain forest with a lush green foliage print, or you can even make it daring with a bold tiger print.

Neutral Zone So maybe your style isn’t quite big, bold, or wild -- the good news is that soft neutral wallpaper is also quite trendy. Colors like beige, soft pink and rose are popping up everywhere and while understated, are still making a statement in homes, none the less. Want to take your neutral a step further, watercolor style wallpaper gives a delicate yet artsy feel to any room proving you don’t have to go over the top to transform your space.

Be a Square Speaking of prints, geometric shapes are back, but don’t worry, there’s no need to pull out that old geometry book because I’m talking wallpaper. Yes, geometric shapes, big and small are all the rage for wallpaper these days. The only thing bolder than the shapes are the colors on these prints. While you’d think these colorful shapes would be overwhelming, they can offer somewhat of a calming continuity in the right room. April 2022 | 75

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Luxury Yacht

EXCURSIONS & PLEASURE CRUISES

Discover Destin’s Premium Luxury Motor Yachting at it’s Best.

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Celebrate Your Special Day with Panache! Enjoy an Elegantly Catered Brunch or Happy Hour Cruise Delight Your Guests with Dolphins at Play Explore the Grandeur of the Emerald Coast

Welcome to Parrot Head Yachts! We offer locals and visitors the joy of spending several hours on an ocean excursion aboard a luxury motor yacht – manned by a US Coast Guard Certified Captain and Crew! We sail out of Destin, Florida and we are here to show you the BEST way to see the Emerald Coast through our unique and FUN pleasure cruise packages. Our luxury yacht experiences are for EVERYONE: from families, couples, retirees, and honeymooners – to corporate teams, wedding parties, and more! Let us take care of the details, all you need to do is show up ready to experience yacht life.

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“Explore. Enjoy. Experience Yacht Life!” PARROT HEAD YACHTS, LLC PARROTHEADYACHTS.COM (850) 980-5824

3/30/22 12:15 AM


VIP Destin at Emerald Grande

Destin Chamber

Business Before Hours photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

Cassy DeJulio & Kayla O’Leary

Hayley Hamrey & Kelsey Plant

David Burwell & Debbie Bowdenstine

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he Emerald Grande’s ballroom hosted the Destin Chamber’s monthly Business Before Hours meeting on March 11. The event was widely attended and guests enjoyed breakfast as well as several local speakers. Sponsored by Holloway Yacht Charters, LLC, Ryan Holloway showed a brief video then spoke on his business, outlining the charters offered, Ryan said, “I am grateful to the Chamber and the city for embracing our company.” Following Ryan was an overview of Impact 100 of Northwest Florida, Inc. During an interactive Q&A, Nancy Francis shared that 100% of the donations go to grants and since 2012, 3.6 million has been given to local projects. Destin Principals Joe Jannazo, Belinda Small, and Christine Cruickshank then gave a presentation on the state of the Destin schools. Principal Small described a very rich environment where students from as far away as Brazil, Croatia, and England attend schools on the Emerald Coast. Business Person of the Month was Jimmy Thorpe, owner of A Superior Air Conditioning Company. As a company their philanthropic endeavors range from appreciation luncheons for first responders and veterans to raising money for area charities.

Tim Kersanac & Shane Moody

Stephanie Greenwood & Jeremy McVay

Bernita Everett & Courtney Dollson

Marta & Jimmy Thorpe

Toby Williams & Jim Wood

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ISLAND WING COMPANY GRILL & BAR

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ONLINE ORDERING - WWW.ISLANDWING.COM In November of 2021 local musician COREY FERNANDEZ released his debut album

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Local Sounds - Local Musicians

Book these musicians together for your next event!

APRIL PADEN is a private violin and piano instructor in Destin. All ages welcome. April.Paden@gmail.com 850-876-9170

April 2022 | 79

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Raising the Bar YOUR GUIDE TO STOCKING YOUR HOME BAR story by Anna Stockton

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ome bars are more popular than ever these days. Maybe it’s because we’re excited to entertain again -- or maybe we’ve decided our happy place is at home with our families. No matter the reason, home bars can add class, sophistication, and fun to your home. While the thought of stocking those bars can be quite overwhelming and frankly, expensive, we’re here to guide you through the process and make sure you have what you need to cater to and wow your guests. You don’t have to buy out the liquor store to make sure your home bar has everything you need to entertain your guests (and yourself), you just need the basics to start. Vodka is a main ingredient in many drinks, so having a good, solid, non-flavored vodka is important and will come in handy for anything from bloody marys to screwdrivers and many things in between. If you choose to add a flavored vodka to the mix, citrus and vanilla flavored are the most versatile. If your guests are a fancy martini drinking bunch, spend a little more on a higher end vodka -- your guests will thank you. While gin isn’t as popular as vodka, a good bottle of gin will go a long way in offering an assortment of options to your guests.

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Another bar staple you should have is tequila, because sometimes margarita Monday or taco Tuesdays just sneak up on you. Tequila is more versatile than just adding the fun to our margarita nights, and there are hundreds of tequila-based cocktail recipes to prove it. Keeping a good silver (blanco) tequila on hand will enable you to fill most any tequila drink order. Rum is another spirit that wears many hats in the cocktail arena. As one of the more affordable liquors, it won’t break the bank to buy your rum essentials. It’s recommended that you keep both a light and a dark rum in your bar, the light rum will be for mojitos all the way to daquiris, while the dark rum is essential for your tropical drinks such as mai-tais and painkillers. Adding whiskey to your bar isn’t as cut and dry as the other liquors. Whiskeys are more of a personal choice, as they all have different tastes and characteristics. However, a Canadian whiskey and a good bourbon should cover your whiskey needs for your bar. Canadian whiskeys tend to be smoother while the bourbon brings the hardy whiskey taste. If you’d like to expand your whiskey selection beyond that, adding rye whiskey, Irish whiskey, and scotch are all good choices and will ensure you have something for even the most discerning whiskey drinking guest. Liqueurs are also important in a well-stocked bar as they’re used in many different cocktail recipes. Dry and sweet vermouth are important for martinis, while amaretto is an almond flavored liqueur that’s used in both basic as well as more complicated cocktail recipes. Two more liqueurs you’ll need in your bar are coffee and Irish Crème liqueurs. The coffee liqueur is essential for white

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Russians while the Irish Crème is the key ingredient in mudslides and Irish coffee. Rounding out the key liqueurs in your bar is an orange liqueur such as Triple Sec or Grand Marnier, this multipurpose ingredient will be so well-used, you may just need to have a back-up bottle on hand. You’ll also need some non-alcoholic (I know!) items on hand to mix up those perfect cocktails. Mixers are an important factor in offering your guests a large variety of options, simple syrup, grenadine, and sour mix are all important, just to name a few. Carbonated drinks like tonic water, club soda, ginger ale, lemon-lime sodas, and regular and diet sodas should all be kept in stock for your home bar. Small cans of juices such as tomato, grapefruit, orange, cranberry, and pineapple are also vital in your cocktail making. Rounding out your bar are the little details your guests will notice, such as sliced oranges and limes, as well as maraschino cherries. Salt and sugar for the rim of your glass, olives for martinis, and fresh mint for mint juleps or mojitos will have your guests in awe of your home bar.

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VIP Destin at Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast

Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast

Anniversary Party photos & story by Greg Alexander

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he brokerage office may be quietly tucked away between a church and a parking lot on busy Harbor Boulevard, but on March 17 Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast’s location was really standing out to passers-by. However, nothing stands out more than the spirit and excitement of Jacqui Luberto and her team of brokers and agents at Realty ONE Group. With gold balloons flanking the signs and a presence from Cheesus Food Truck and Kombi Keg, and with many dressed in green, the St. Patrick’s Day event was celebrating the successful 2nd anniversary of Realty ONE Group’s Destin location. The come and go event was a well-attended celebration where guests offered congratulations to all affi liated with Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast. Jacqui and Matt Luberto brought this modern, lifestyle real estate firm to Destin only two years ago and have already successfully grown to four offices -- on the Destin Harbor, in Crestview, in Seagrove Beach along Highway 30A, and in Panama City Beach.

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Lisa Buchman & Karen McCauley

Matt & Jacqui Luberto

Erika Marr & Lindsey Pavlov

Kim Moore & Chris Bent

India Hebert & Yara De Leon

Sasha Peden & Lacy Butrim

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Easter is here, spreading the colorful cheer.

Melissa Raulerson, Francisco Montes de Oca & Tarrah Sexton

Thank you for voting us

Best Children’s Clothing

The Beaufort Bonnet Company | Bogg Bag Saltwater Sandals | Minnow | Maileg Jellycat | Kickee Pants | Posh Peanut Thalia Bradley, Lana Parks & Cora Rasmussen

pinknblueavenue.net (850) 424-5707 4339 Legendary Drive D112, Destin, FL 32541

Welcome Spring Breakers! Morgan Wilson, Chris Ramakka & Eric Raulerson

Home of the 102 foot bar including 32 beers on draft.

Happy Hour $1 off all drinks and selected 1/2 price appetizers ~ Daily 3-6 Live Music Wednesday thru Saturday ~ 5:30-8:30 Sunday Brunch with Endless Mimosas and Bloody Marys ~ 11-3

Aerial Guest & Sonja Ramakka

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VIP Destin at Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer

Tourism & Hospitality Lunch Matina Jeffries & Rose Baldwin

Annette Battle, Kayla O’Leary & Savannah McQuaig

photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

B Lindsay & Brandon Creighton

rotula’s Seafood House and Steamer hosted the Tourism and Hospitality lunch on March 16. Kicking off the meeting, Jason Hall of Five Channels introduced the guests and thanked the sponsors. Luncheon sponsor, Larry Cowsert of Parrot Head Yachts, showed photos from their charters and explained their goal to bring “joy, smiles, and happiness, that’s what it’s all about.” City of Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis, also spoke on protecting the Destin brand and improving beach access for locals and visitors alike. Okaloosa County Tourist Development Director Jennifer Adams, gave an overview of how advertising dollars are used, the major markets, and some of the fun programs for visitors. “We are more than just about the beach. We have a robust lionfish program and an underwater reef program.” Explaining where tourist dollars go, she said that money is spent on beach renourishment, capital projects, beach access, clean parks, and a clean beach.

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Josh Cowsert & Fran Rice

Suzette Smith & Marie Dawkins

Rich Lamperti, Melissa Fertitta & Peggy Moravec

Catherine Card & Shane Moody

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

Interview with

Bobby Wagner Executive Director Please tell our readers about Trees on the Coast. Trees on the Coast (TOTC) values are rooted in connecting communities back into nature. And like nature - it takes all components, all contributing to the whole, for the system work. Trees on the Coast aims to make a generational impact towards improving our coastal ecosystems by giving individuals an opportunity to help their surrounding environment—whether picking up trash, planting a tree, recycling a can, etc. We are teaching people how to recognize the visual goodness that nature provides and giving them the tools to maintain that beauty for generations to come. To help promote enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility in our youth, TOTC brings nature into the schools by planting trees and beautifying the campus. By doing so, students get to have a hands-on learning experience of our native environment and how connected we are with it. Through our “Honor Tree Program,” Trees on the Coast combats tree loss by expanding the tree canopy to beautify our streets, neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and parks. Tree plantings increase community involvement and, again, encourages individuals to connect and respect all aspects of nature. After all, it is our natural resources that attract so many to our area. So why not continue to improve and keep those resources beautiful and healthy.

How did the organization come about? Trees on the Coast, formally known as “Trees Destin,” started in 2015 by Allen French with the one mission of planting trees along the coast of Okaloosa and Walton County. At that point, there were no other organizations dedicated to simply planting trees. Mr. French saw the need and decided to rally local businesses and community leaders to begin planting trees along the Coast. It has now evolved into an organization that focuses on the whole ecosystem— not just one part of it. We aim to have TOTC practices adopted across all coastlines to continue the mission of protecting and adding to coastal ecosystems. What impact has the TOTC had on the community? With the help of over 200 volunteers, TOTC has now planted approximately 700 trees across Okaloosa and Walton counties. These projects span from cemeteries, local elementary and high schools, to dog parks, community parks, and roadways. In 2020, TOTC incorporated beach clean-ups as part of our mission to help the environment as a whole. Since then, we have hosted and inspired kids, young professionals, business owners, etc., to do our part in keeping our area clean. We established a “beach basket” program that allows beach-walkers and goers to conveniently pick up trash while enjoying the natural resources that we are aiming to keep beautiful and healthy.

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How did you get involved with TOTC? Ask me, in person, at our next planting or clean-up! What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with this organization? Being a content creator, I have always gravitated towards “visual goodness”— whether that “goodness” is created with a camera or created with the rest of the community. I believe that when we come together to beautify the environment, we are creating visual goodness that not only serves as instant gratification, but also gives the peace of mind that we are a part of creating something that future generations will recognize and appreciate. I believe that if we take care of the environment, the environment will take care of us… so that’s what I aim to do. With each event I realize that there are more and more people who care, appreciate, and want to maintain the beauty that nature provides. The most rewarding part is seeing those individuals continue to make a positive environmental impact without needing an “event” to do so. Please tell us about your organization’s make-up. A community of like-minded individuals who share a common goal— protecting the few unique ecosystems we have left. We can’t depend on others to do it for us, so it is up to the individual to have the “want.” We are NOT an environmental group that talks about the changes that we need— we are beingT the change we wish to see. What events does your organization host? • Monthly clean-ups • Tree Plantings • Beautification projects (schools, parks, roadways, etc.) How can someone get involved with TOTC? Please visit treesonthecoast.com if you’re interested in any of the following: • Monthly clean-ups • Tree Plantings • Sponsor a beautification project • Opportunities to educate the youth through our school plantings • Monetary contributions • Honor Tree Program

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VIP Destin at Mattie Kelly Arts Center

Leilani Ali & Keshawn Bhula

photos & story by Zhalman Harris

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t was a fun and colorful day at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center on March 18, where hundreds came out to celebrate the popular ancient Hindu festival, Holi the Festival of Colors. The international Hindu festival was attended by Hindus living in Walton and Okaloosa counties and locals who wanted to join in the Festival of Colors. Those who attended the festival enjoyed western and Hindi mixes by the DJ, while indulging in the fun of pouring and spraying different color powders on each other. Several food trucks were available for guests to purchase food and drinks. Reva, Ulesh & Sachi Patel

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Audrey Morehead & Ryan King

Ricky Dayaram & Rupal Bahkta

Tunazzina Alam & Saee Moore

Traci Goodhart & Sherry Barney

Hannah Salda, Alex Haisten, Madison Richardson, Evan Himenez & Nicole Ruiz

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VIP Destin at Raven Golf Club

Craig Collins & Carlos Shaffran

Darrell Kline, Tyler Merritt & Clay Wilkinson

Tim Pasley & Sean Neal

Golf Cowboys Spring Fling photos & story by Greg Alexander

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n 2019 a group of men got together for a mini golf tournament. Since it was December, they called it the Christmas Clash -- but they only had 8 players show up. However, they had so much fun that they decided to do it again in the spring of 2020, calling it the Spring Fling, and doubling the number of players. Word got around and everyone was asking about this fun golf group, so they decided to have one for every season, adding the Summer Splash and the Fall Flight all at one of the three courses at Sandestin. The group took on the name the Golf Cowboys and are now hosting almost 100 players per tournament and are donating a portion of the proceeds to Fisher House Emerald Coast. The 2022 Spring Fling tournament took place on March 19 at the Raven Golf Course. One thing that makes this tournament different is the teams are paired by the organizers. While initially, some may see this negatively, players walk away with new friends and connections. Prizes for the Spring Fling included cash and gift cards to local businesses. The Saturday morning event was held under the most ideal spring weather conditions where players came from as far away as Washington DC, the Carolinas, and Miami, just for this event. To learn more about upcoming Golf Cowboy events, check out their website at golfcowboys.com.

Rick Baumann, Drew Dorman & McGuire Bennett

Gary Todd & Kathy Robbins

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Joe Capers, Jerry Landrum, Chandler Carlyle & Lloyd Carlyle

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APRIL 9 & 10 Building Industry Association 43rd Annual Home Show Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center 1250 Miracle Strip Parkway SE | Fort Walton Beach Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm Sunday 11:00am - 4:00pm Come down to the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center for the Buidling Industry Association’s annual home show. This show offers new and exciting products as well as free seminars for attendees. For more information, go to: biaow.org/home-show.

APRIL 16 City of Destin Easter Egg Hunt

APRIL 14 Walton Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic Blackstone Golf Course 108 Blackstone Lane | DeFuniak Springs 10:00am The Walton Chamber Golf Classic offers fun and a bit of competitiveness with three-man teams vying for bragging rights on the beautiful Blackstone Golf Course. Food, entertainment and an after party will make this an unforgettable day. Visit waltonareachamber.com/spring-golf-classic/ to sign up.

Morgan Sports Center 4200 Indian Bayou Trail | Destin 9:00 - 10:00am Hippity Hoppity! Here comes the Easter Bunny! Join the city of Destin as they host an Easter egg hunt! This event is open to children 12 years and younger. People with disabilities who might need extra help are encouraged to let the recreation manager know in advance at Recreation@cityofdestin.com. Check out destinchamber.com/events/details/city-of-destin-to-host-easter-egg-hunt-48783 for more info.

APRIL 17 Easter Bunny at Lulu’s Lulu’s Destin 4607 Legendary Marina Drive | Destin 1:00 - 3:00pm Boy, does the Easter Bunny have a busy weekend as he makes his appearance at Lulu’s in Destin. Spend Easter Sunday with the “somebunny” special, have your picture taken with the Easter Bunny and get an egg with a treat inside. Check out destinchamber.com/events/details/ easter-bunny-at-lulu-s-destin-48879 for more information.

APRIL 21 Concerts in the Village Michael Jackson Tribute Mattie Kelly Arts Village 4323 Commons Dr. West | Destin 7:00pm “Don’t stop til you get enough”..... of Michael Jackson. Concerts in the Village present Jalles Franca, one of the top Michael Jackson tribute artists in the world. He is committed to bringing the magic of Michael Jackson to audiences around the world in tribute to one of the greatest performers of all time. Go to app.arts-people.com/index. php?ticketing=mkafi for tickets.

MAY 6-8 9th Annual Taco and Tequila Fest The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9100 Baytowne Avenue | Miramar Beach Three days of culinary events at the 9th Annual Tequila & Taco Fest at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Local restaurants will be competing for the Best Taco and Best Margarita on the Emerald Coast along with face painting, tortilla tossing, nacho eating contest and of course the chihuahua beauty contest. Visit bigtickets.com/e/ttf/tandtfest/ for tickets to this event.

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VIP Destin at Destin Commons

D photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

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estin Commons hosted the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast’s annual Mac & Cheese Festival on March 6 presented by Cox Media. Around 1,400 people purchased tickets for the 4th annual event. “The Mac & Cheese Festival started the Boys & Girls Club’s foodie festivals for the kids and now they’ve grown to five,” stated Shantelle Dedicke, President of Frances Roy. “Although there are several foodie festivals,” Shantelle continued, “this one is definitely the cheesiest, and we’re having a blast.” Competitors at the festival brought their “A game” by adding secret ingredients such as jalapenos and gouda cheese. Ranging from local restaurants to businesses, each booth was vying for one of the three categories: Judge’s Choice, People’s Choice, and Kid’s Choice. Even the Ocean City-Wright Fire Control District was serving mac & cheese. “As proud supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs, we were asked to participate and we were proud to do so,” said Fire Chief Mark Bundrick. All proceeds from the festival benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, which works to promote competence, character, and citizenship in area youth.

Annabeth, Mac & Jared Wright

Kelly Jasen & Jeoff Brown

Back: Tonya & Karl Klaudi Front: William & Samuel Klaudi

Frances & Nicole Malley

Jessica Johnson & Aysha Leacock

Katelyn & Catherine Yanez

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I AM DESTIN

Christine Cruickshank

What is your hometown and how did you end up on the Emerald Coast? People say, “there is no place like home,” and when it comes to Destin, Florida, I wholeheartedly agree. Living on the Emerald Coast is a gift, because there is no other place like it. I was born and raised in Lancaster, PA, lived in North Carolina and moved to Florida in 1996. My husband, Kent is a local and couldn’t wait to show me where he grew up while we were dating. It was love at first sight for both he and I … and for this area. We quickly made plans to move here and I have enjoyed every minute, making an impact as an educator ever since. What is your profession and what led you to choose it? After a nationwide search, the Executive Governing Board of Destin High School, named me as the Head of School, to serve as principal in 2021. With the board’s guidance, I implemented their strategic plan to open the very first high school in our city’s history to lead the school into the future. I’ve been an educator for 35 years. I spent 21 years of my career in high school social studies classrooms and 14 years, “in the front office,” as an administrator. I have coached numerous high school sports and sponsored many student activities and clubs. I often get asked what led me to this profession and I’m proud to say that my grandmother was a teacher, who inspired me personally and professionally. I’ve known since 3rd grade that I wanted to follow in her footsteps and become a teacher. What are some of your favorite things about Destin? If you had asked me prior to the fall of 2021, I would have said the beach. Now my favorite thing about Destin is Destin High School. The students, their families, and the incredible educators that have chosen to be part of the Destin High family, as we make history, have won my heart. Our students have so much to offer this area and are passionate about leaving their mark on Northwest Florida. Each student and teacher are leaving a unique legacy on our little beach town and I am inspired by their determination to do so daily. Also, I love how our community has a heart to serve others and support Destin High School. Whenever a need arises, from sponsoring a classroom to donating money to field a new sport, or to purchase a brand-new bus, the Destin folks show up big time to help. Destin has a small-town feel, with a big heart... and I love that! Three words that best describe you.

photo by Greg Alexander

Caring. Passionate. Enthusiastic. (If you have given me 5 words, I would have added: Gator Fan!) What is the one thing you would say you do not go a day without? I definitely need my Diet Coke! Finish this statement. I AM Destin because… I have the unique opportunity to help shape the high school students of Destin into productive citizens that are well educated and know how to give back to their community, while making a positive impact locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

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