VIP Destin Magazine, February 2020

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Where the South Comes for Smiles


9 Time Winner of Best Cosmetic Dentist


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events 14 MKAF 25th Anniversary Launch Party 17 Greater FWB Chamber Annual Board Installation & Awards Breakfast 21 Crescendo! 2020 Kick-Off Lunch 26 Winter Guest Fest 28 Pop Shop & Botox 35 Top Shelf 98 Mix Off 41 Winter Wonderland 43 Home for the Holidays 46 FPRA January Luncheon Power Up! 49 Power of Business Luncheon 54 Destin High School Town Hall Pep Rally 57 Step One Automotive Group Christmas Party 61 Brunch, Rhythm & Brews 65 Business Before Hours 71 Destin Chamber Business After Hours 85 Destin Chamber Awards Night

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departments 24 38 51 68 79 83 90

Coastal Cuisine Destin Style Swizzle Give Care Share Save the Date Locale I Am Destin

features 31 Best in Destin Winners Announcing Best in Destin 2020 Winners! Check out the full list of winners voted Best in Destin.

;<!/6(&.%1/0-2->%1(/?.-@@ !"#$%&'() Greg Alexander *&&+,%-.(/!"#$%&'() Verla Price 0-1-2%12/34%.+) Steve Barber !)+4",.%+1/34%.+) Jessica GraĂąa *45().%&%12 Steve Barber Verla Price Jeff Sarault

6(&%21() Priscilla Atkins Sheila McDiarmid 7+1.)%#".%12/8)%.()&9 !'+.+2)-:'()& Greg Alexander Zhalman Harris Shanna Magnuson Coutrney Murray Verla Price Liesel Schmidt ;<!/=+"14() Jeff Watson

February 2020 | 11

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!"##"$%&$'(%#)"%*+,!-.)"$ For years we have had the pleasure of communicating to you, our readers, what you and your peers collectively believe are Destin’s best places for dining, drinking, shopping, and for health and wellness activities. We are so excited to be the source where you can express your opinions on the places and things that are your favorites. In this issue, we announce this year’s Best In Destin winners, based on over 300,000 votes- and considering the volume of folks that have reached out to us to find out who won, I know that you have all torn through immediately to that page. That is a lot of voting activity for this “fishing village.” Take time to look over the complete list of winners and we hope you will find some new favorite places to check out. There were so many worthy businesses nominated and the Destin area is so fortunate to have such a broad range of options and opportunities for such a small town. We greatly congratulate and thank all who were nominated and all who voted in this year’s Best In Destin. It always feels that the holiday month of December is so busy, and we look forward to the slower pace of January without a lot of festivities going on. However, while there was a lot to do in December, January was packed with enough fun events to leave the most social of butterflies a little weary. If you were still in a holiday stupor and missed out on some of the January excitement, then we can fill you in through our event pages full of folks with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out!). These events were well attended and we are happy to bring them to you here in our February Issue. In addition to events, let us help you prepare for your Mardi Gras celebrations with our February feature in Swizzle and Coastal Cuisine, or find some fashion inspiration for Valentine’s date night, or any date night, in Destin Style. Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing you out at many of February’s celebrations and special occasions. The days will soon be getting longer and the weather more temperate, so be sure to savor every single day and take in all that we are fortunate enough to have access to the beautiful Emerald Coast.

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VIP Destin at Emerald Grande HarborView Room

25th Anniversary

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attie Kelly Art Foundation held their 25th Anniversary Launch Party in the HarborView Room at Emerald Grande on January 22. The celebratory and informational event was held to honor the 2019 board members and chairman, conduct the board installation of 2020, and announce the 25th Season of Events. The outgoing chair Heather Ruiz was awarded the 2019 Chairman’s Sterling Award for her great job as chairman in 2019. She attributed the success of the 24th season and her chairmanship to the support of the wonderful and engaging community. After his induction, 2020 Board Chairman Kevin Bowyer promised to lead another successful season, even though he was cognizant of the aggressive plan which laid ahead. “I am looking forward to welcoming everyone to one or more of our many events we have planned this year,” said Bowyer. The Executive committee members for 2020 are Teresa Halverson- Vice Chairman, Denise Kendust -Secretary, Bill Lindsley- Treasure, Dion Moniz, Shantelle Dedicke, Gail Pelto, and Todd Wilkinson. The CEO of MKAF Marcia Hull thanked all of those who worked tirelessly to make each year better than the one before, and mentioned she is looking forward for an even more exciting year.

Tracy & Alan Wood

Heather Ruiz & Denise Kendust

Andy & Haley Poveda

Gilda Jackson & Gail Pelto

Steve Barber & Denise Song

Susan Kiley & Wayne Paul 14


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Bob & Teresa Halverson

Tracy Louthain, Marcia Hull & Shantelle Dedicke

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Will Estell, Dion Moniz & Maxine Orange Bern

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VIP Destin at Fort Walton Beach First Baptist Church

The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce

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Mary Florence & Patricia Payne


he Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Board Installation and Awards Ceremony on Friday, January 3, at its First Friday Coffee at the Fort Walton Beach First Baptist Church. The event, which was sponsored by Tammy’s Journeys, inducted their Board Members for 2020-2022, and acknowledged individuals and businesses that made an impact in the community. Step One Automotive Group was selected as the 2019 Business of the Year for many reasons, including their title sponsorship of Military Family Appreciation Day and the Billy Bowlegs Torchlight Parade. The Island, by Hotel RL, was chosen for the Business Revitalization Award. The Hugh Kendall Community Impact Award, an honor given to an outstanding community volunteer, was presented to Ron Grissom, who was nominated by the Arc of the Emerald Coast. Kim Denman of Gateway Payments was honored as the Mert Wagner Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her volunteerism at Chamber and community events. Paul Singleton was selected as Jim Glenn Ambassador of the Year because of his long history of service to the Ambassadors. Incoming Chair Vince Mayfield of Bit-Wizards, introduced his Executive Board members Heather Ruiz of Destin Commons (2021 Chair Elect), Matt Turpin of Bank of England Mortgage (Immediate Past Chair), and Stephen Perkins of Warren Averett (Treasurer). The remaining Executive Committee members are: Barbara Britt (Barbara J. Britt), Gus Gusoff (Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson), Paul Stinebiser (Edward Jones Investment Advisors), Donna Tashik (The Arc of the Emerald Coast), and Bill Roberts (Barnes Insurance Services). The incoming board members for 2020-2022 are: Melissa Allegretto (ERA American Realty), Maureen Bierman (Step One Automotive Group), Nic Dezinski (MAG Aerospace), Robin Donlon (BBVA), Lino Maldonado, Gordon King (Okaloosa Gas), Brooke McLean (Air Force Enlisted Village), and Shervin Rassa (Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of the Emerald Coast).

Tiffany & Shon Kingrey

Lisa Jo & Gary Spencer

Linda Garza & Julie Gray

Jordan Ringo, Rachel Valasquez, Tanya Rauch & Alexis Poveda February 2020 | 17

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VIP Destin at the Board Installation & Awards Breakfast

Carolyn Fries & Bobby Bess


Lane Redding, Robin Donlon, Katie Sharon & Betty Brassell

Mark Dutram & Steve Baxter

Sarah Peavy & Aerika Wardrip

Gus Gusoff & Ted Corcoran

Shervin Rassa & Nathan Kelly

Alan Gieseman, Cindy Halsey & Ginger Kelly

Kim Cox, Pam Woodall & Bill Roberts


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VIP Destin at Bijoux Destin

Crescendo! photos & story by Zhalman Harris


rescendo! Kicked off their 2020 season in style at Bijoux Destin located at The Market Shops, on January 16. Guests enjoyed an incredible lunch prepared by award-winning chef/co-owner Jack McGuckin, while sipping elegant wines provided by Bouchaine Vineyards and indulging in delectable desserts. The latest spring fashions were modeled by Today’s Boutique, and the Jewel displayed must-have accessories of the season. There were even door prizes and raffle items for event-goers to win. Board of Directors President Jeff Dannelly thanked all sponsors, and gave guests highlights of upcoming events. Sinfonia Gulf Coast is committed to entertaining, educating, and inspiring the community through imaginative and innovative musical programming. Their primary goal is to enrich and expand the traditional orchestral experience through unique artistic disciplines and collaborations, enhancing Northwest Florida’s cultural vitality. Crescendo! benefits Sinfonia Gulf Coast and its music education programs throughout Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

Steve Barber & Whitney Lee

Karen Allen & Cindy Gerrard

Beth Clavier & Demetrius Fuller

Joan Carter & Denise Song

Renee McCrary & Candis Wilson

Glenda Palmore & Vickie Matthews February 2020 | 21

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VIP Destin at Crescendo!

Kate Kelley & Deborah Elmore

Beverly Sassano, Susan Burch & Margaret Depew

Debra Henry & Nikki Rabon

Renee Launiere, Pam Hagberg & Renee Beaman 22

Elaine Courtney & Jill Cadenhead

Teresa Bolton & Kay Crawford

Joyce VanBelkum, Kim Dettle & Elizabeth Barton

Alyssa Jesmain & Glenda Lichorwic

Connie Yarbro & Jo Stewart

Sally Thiede, Mara Clark & Kitty Taylor


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Let the Good Doughs Roll story by Liesel Schmidt


f you’ve ever been to New Orleans, the word “beignet” is one that likely brings with it a sensory memory of addictive and fragrant squares of fried dough whose soft, pillowy texture is made even more irresistible with the addition of a healthy dusting of confectioners’ sugar. So synonymous is it with NOLA cuisine, in fact, that the beignet was declared the official donut of the state of Louisiana in 1986, though some would probably argue that this tasty confection leaves the ordinary donut in its dust. A pastry whose origins can be traced back to ancient Rome, the French style that is now so highly revered throughout the French Quarter was brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists. Despite the fact that some variations may include the use of banana, plantain, or berries, traditional beignets consist simply of deep fried choux dough that has puffed up to achieve something light and airy, their golden color offset by the snowiness of the finishing toss though sugar they receive after being removed from the oil. And while some might consider it a breakfast or brunch dish, a case could well be made that there’s no wrong time to eat a freshly fried beignet. Naturally, a well-made beignet is not to be missed; but to truly appreciate this heavenly confection at its finest, one must indulge when they are hot. Served fresh and with a cup of coffee, there’s no greater experience, no better homage to The Big Easy than the beignet. One taste, and you’ll swear your taste buds are doing the Second Line.

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!"#$%&!%"'() 12 oz. lukewarm water 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 packet active dry yeast 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1 1/4 tsp. salt 8 oz. evaporated milk 7 cups bread flour 1/4 cup shortening 3 cups confectioners’ sugar Nonstick cooking spray Oil (for deep frying)

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New Orleans’ Style Beignets &!$%*'!+"()

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat the eggs, salt, and evaporated milk together. Add egg mixture to the yeast mixture and mix together to combine. Add 3 cups of the bread flour to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add the shortening and continue stirring while adding the remainder of the flour to create a dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, then place onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead until dough has reached a smooth consistency. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray, then place dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a

towel. Let covered dough rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours, until double in size. Pour confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside. Preheat oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350 degrees. While the oil heats, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Gently place the dough squares into the oil and fry, flipping constantly, until they become a deep golden color. After beignets are fried, remove them from the oil and drain them for a few seconds on paper towels. Place the hot beignets in the bag of confectioners' sugar and shake, holding the bag closed to coat evenly. Serve hot with fresh coffee or café au lait and enjoy!

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VIP Destin at Emerald Coast Convention Center

!"#$%&'()%*$'+%*$ photos & story by Zhalman Harris


he Winter Guest Fest presented by ResortQuest took place at the Emerald Coast Convention Center on January 16. The event catered to the snowbirds who make our beautiful area their destination of choice year after year. They return each year to enjoy warmer weather, the relaxed beach lifestyle, and world-class amenities. The Winter Guest Fest offered a wonderful opportunity to visit with people from all over the world while sharing all the great things happening in and around the Fort Walton Beach area. During Winter Guest Fest, attendees met local business professionals that offered products and services which cater to the needs of long-term vacationers. They made their way to various booths and learned about discounted activities including golfing, fishing, medical care, and local shows. Guests also enjoyed small bite samples from local restaurants.

Eppi Azzaretto & Lin Moormann

Daniel Martin & Rachel Green


Aaron Vaughn & Anne Hinze

Erin Thatcher & Misty Rae Ruthrauff

Denise Kendust & Allie Noah

Jessica Wuebbles, Lisa Buchman, Dione McElwain & Keith Waters

Amy Dubie & Diane Henningfield


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Bill & Juanita Harvin

Keri Pici, Jennifer Jensen & Rachel Velasquez

Belinda Ramos, Barbara Dean & JoDell Haverfield

Carla Von Kaenell, Mary Muller & Ashley Bailey February 2020 | 27

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VIP Destin at Today’s Boutique

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Karen Winicke & JoAnn Jones


oday’s Boutique was the place to be on January 18, as they kicked off their first Sip & Shop event dubbed “Pop Shop & Botox.” Guests had the opportunity to be the first to see and shop this year’s hottest trends, colors, and looks, along with the new spring line-up from some of their favorite brands including Planet, Ribkoff, Lysse, Samuel Dong, and more. Models also showcased some of the apparels as they modeled around the store. The event, co-hosted in partnership with Sinfonia Gulf Coast, also offered complimentary light bites and bubbly, with a lucky few winning door prizes, gift cards, and more. Dr. Stickler from Dermatology Specialists, was on hand doing onsite Botox sessions as well.

Brooke Budney & Ampy Cox

Kim Dettle & Beth Clavier

Anne & Maddie Hinze

Kristin Dettle Humphrey & Whitney Lee

Brittany White & Amanda McCoy

Donna Witte & Andrea Madden

Al & Joyce Schilling


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Voted Best Boutique and Best Local Retailer BEST Locally Owned Retailer BEST Womení s Clothing

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1/29/20 2:13 PM

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

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Since 2000

1/29/20 2:14 PM

Best in Destin Black Tie Ball story by Courtney Murray


The “BEST” – of the most excellent, effective, or desirable type of quality.

his is the caliber of nominees for the Best in Destin awards. Each spring hundreds of local businesses vie for the position of being bestowed the honor of the Best in Destin title. All year they work tirelessly to prove their worthiness. Chefs chop, sautee and grill their way towards achieving the “Best Restaurant”, “Best Gumbo”, or “Best Seafood” awards. Makeup artists, hair stylists and photographers brush up on their skills hoping to double dip awards in their individual categories as well as the Wedding/Bridal Services. With over 140 categories, the competition is fierce. Do you consider yourself an aficionado of cocktails? An expert of local musicians? Knowledgeable in the field of fashion? Then it is time to make your voices heard and choose your favorites in each of the extensive list of categories. Give your preferred businesses the recognition they deserve and cast your votes for your favorites. The hard work has been completed, the votes have been cast, and now you are a Best in Destin winner! Locals and visitors recognize your talents by the coveted Best in Destin logo emblazed on your windows, printed on your advertisements and splashed across your social media outlets. It’s time to shout it from the rooftops! Owners of all winning businesses will also receive invitations to the highly anticipated VIP Destin Magazine annual Black Tie Ball. On March 14, 2020 the grand celebration will take place at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. As guests slowly enter the ballroom, dressed elegantly in tuxedos and ball gowns, they take in the beautiful décor and breathe in the ambiance of the evening. As they make their way down the red carpet they are treated like the winners they are from the first step through the door. Guests sip cocktails as they mingle with friends and other successful local business owners; congratulating each other on a year of growth and expertise in their fields. The first class treatment continues throughout the evening with delicious food and entertainment. The winners are each given their moment in the spotlight as they cross the stage and are presented with their award. The evening concludes by dancing the night away to fantastic music. Each year the Black Tie Ball gets bigger and more extravagant. Cheers to 2020 and all of the amazing local businesses; what a talented town we live in. And now, without further ado, we are proud to present the 2020 Best in Destin Award Winners!

And the Winners Are...

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VIP Destin at Distillery 98


*+$,-.$/)) photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


hunderstorms and heavy rain didn’t stop the Top Shelf 98 Mix Off event from being packed all evening at Distillery 98 on January 11. From 4-8:00pm, the best restaurants and bars in the area competed for Best Cocktail on 30A, showing off their chosen or signature cocktail and pouring skills with celebrity judges Nikhill Abuvala, Hannah Martin, and Jessica Bracken. Distillery 98 served drinks and delicious food to the guests while live music by Cadillac Willy and Foaming Heads kept the local vibe going. Cheers from the crowd encouraged the competitors and added to the excitement of finding out the winner. The competitors for the first ever Best Cocktail on 30A included Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar, Chiringo, Grayton Beer Brewpub, Havana Beach Bar & Grill, Shades Bar and Restaurant, Hurricane Oyster Bar & Grill, and Caliza. This year’s winner was Kyle Walter from Grayton Beer Brewpub with his smoky spin on a cosmopolitan. A percentage of the profits of this eventful evening went toward the Florida Craft Spirits Association. It was a fun-filled memorable night with locals celebrating and supporting their favorite local businesses.

Brie Compton & Slayde Martin

Adam & Jennifer Mayo

Kai Hunter & Corey Jordan

Lauren Lock & Kendall Kapitanoff

Bud Finlaw & Danny Cosenzi

Ann Delaney, Eddie San Juan, Eric Dibble, Trent Emanuel, Julia Kate Mace & Saige Merchant

Tess & Michael Farmer

February 2020 | 35

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VIP Destin at Top Shelf 98 Mix Off

Josh & Lauren Althalia

Hannah Martin, Harrison Holditch & Jessica Bracken

Kit Hunter & Andrew Herig

Rob Stark, Nicole Sprucebank & Davey Dave 36

Frank & Megan Watson

Terra Sapp & Roxanne Southern

Sydney Lowry, Malory Townsend & Lexi Popavich

Andi Anderson & Gigi Breedlove

Koleman Truett & Riley Walski

Leslie Labo, Shawn Parino & Matt Taylor


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Date Night story by Courtney Murray


ingle. Married. It’s complicated. Whatever your relationship status is, everyone deserves a night out every now and then. Enter the date night. You’ve done the hard part of picking out who you actually want to go on a date with, now it is time to choose the perfect outfit. Date nights can vary from very fancy to extremely casual, so it’s important to determine the vibe of your date beforehand. If you’re going to the movies or bowling or to grab a beer at a sports bar, definitely leave your little black dress at home. Try something sleek and casual with a little trendy twist so that you stand out from the crowd. Pair cigarette-leg dark denim with a lacy camisole and a cropped leather jacket to play up an edgy yet feminine juxtaposition. Another cute and casual look is a pair of black leggings with a textured tunic sweater and flat over the knee boots. Try out faux leather leggings if you’re feeling a little spicy. For a casual date guys can adopt a similar approach. A good fitting pair of denim in a medium to dark wash will take you a long way. They can be worn with a plaid button up or a gray Henley with a brown leather jacket thrown over top. They work well with everything from loafers to trendy sneakers to a structured boot. Investing in high quality pieces will pay off in the long run because they can be easily interchanged and worn time and time again.



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If you’re date is more caviar and champagne and less burgers and beers then it’s time to break out the big guns. With Valentine’s Day around the corner consider going bold with shades of crimson, fuchsia and petal pink. You are sure to stop your date in their tracks with a bright red dress paired with a red lipstick to match. If dresses aren’t your style there are other ways to elevate a look for your special someone. Slim fitting black pants with a stand out piece like bright pumps or a sequin tank under a sleek blazer is a great alternative dressy look. Men are the lucky ones. They can easily take those same boots or button up shirt from their casual look and use them for their fancier date ensemble. Swap out the jeans for chinos or dress slacks and you’re ready to impress. If you want to step it up a notch, wearing a jacket over a button up shirt but skipping the tie will keep you from looking too stuffy. Whether you’re going on a blind first date, meeting your match from Bumble or escaping the kids for a night with your spouse of 15 years, there is a lot of pressure surrounding planning and executing a date night. So take the pressure off your wardrobe and have some fun.

February 2020 | 39

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VIP Destin at The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Winter Wonderland photos & story by Zhalman Harris


he Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin turned in to a Winter Wonderland on January 4. Guests could have mistaken it for a snowy winter day as they indulged in snowball fights and made snow angels. The Event Plaza was filled with “real� snow that was produced by a snow maker. Some kids enjoyed sliding down the ice and playing in the snowflakes, while others were under the tent ice skating in the seasonal ice rink.

Derek, Olga & Mila Markulin

Denver, Jason, Boston, Paige & Jersey Hammond

Diza & Ethan Sanchez

Brodie & Marla Levesque

Henryk Oczkpwski, Sonia & Mishka Fenik, Urszula Oczkowski February 2020 | 41

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1/29/20 2:18 PM

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Inspiring 50 Years of Excellence... 1/29/20 2:20 PM

VIP Destin at Santa Rosa Beach

Brianna Pitts & Daniel Gibson

Warrick Dunn, Nancy and her daughters, Ryan Jumonville & Teresa Imdieke

!"#$ !"#$%&'! !"%&'()* photos & story by Zhalman Harris


n January 14, Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, Aaron’s, The Warren Dunn Charities Inc., and Ryan Jumonville made it possible for a well deserving family to get a new home for the holidays. The emotional event did not only bring a new home and a new beginning for this family, but it also brought tears of joy to many including the recipients. A resilient single mother became a first-time homeowner through Habitat for Humanity of Walton County. When Nancy walked through the door of her new home for the first time she was shocked to find each room filled with furniture, electronics, appliances, and the refrigerator and cupboards filled with food and supplies. The home furnishings were donated through a partnership between Aaron’s and Warrick Dunn Charities, Inc. (WDC), a national nonprofit founded in 2002 by retired NFL running back Warrick Dunn, which helps single-parent families achieve homeownership. All of the finishing touches, groceries, and down-payment assistance were made possible thanks to support from Ryan “Jume” Jumonville. This is the 177th home celebration nationwide thanks to Warrick Dunn Charities, Inc. While Nancy was previously dependent on her husband to provide for her and her children, her situation changed drastically when she discovered he had been abusing their four-year-old daughter. After finding the strength to leave him in order to protect her children, she began working at a local financial institution to support her family, and has been rapidly building her credit and savings toward the goal of homeownership.

Megan Waldstein & Janet Woerner

Ali Weil & Carly Harmer

Rick Miller & Whitney Jackson

Katie MacMillan, Dana Crowe, Melissa Vidaurre, John Russell & Karah Young February 2020 | 43

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VIP Destin at Home for the Holidays

Brandon Knox, Matt Staver & Joseph Shaw

Beth Henry, Jennifer Jones & Calvin Jones

!"#$%&'()*"(+#,(-&#,.(/, 850.650.8511

Steven Franco, John Cheek & Steve Buffington

DESTIN FLOORING AMERICA 12889 Emerald Coast Parkway Suite 113B ∑ Miramar Beach, FL 850.689.8977

DESTIN FLOORING AMERICA 2254 South Ferdon Boulevard Crestview, FL

Denise Song, Laurel Vermillion & Susie Pierce 44

d es t i n f l o o r i n g a m e r i c a d e s t i n .c o m


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VIP Destin at Brotula’s


!"#$"%&' ($#)*+,#-'

Rebekah Manley & Stacey Brady


Misty Rae Ruthrauff & Natalie Leon

photos & story by Zhalman Harris

L Mary Beth Coats & Danica Phillips

Leighann Elliott & Ragan Griggs

Lanette Hart, Frank Berte & Jenni Brunson 46

anette Hart, APR, CPRC, Principal at Hart & Associates, LLC was the guest speaker at FPRA Northwest Florida Coast Chapter’s first Luncheon of the year. The event, which took place at Brotula’s Restaurant on January 21, was to get the public relations professionals who attended ready for the New Year by sharpening their leadership skills and enhancing their communication strategies. The Membership Chair also inducted four new members to the chapter during the luncheon. Those who attended the luncheon took away a few valid points: Learn new trends in leader communications and public relations strategies, deepen their understanding of the change communications strategic planning process, discover potential gaps in the organization’s leadership communications planning, tips to personal and professional leadership success, and a personal action plan – “one thing” each person could take back to their workplace.

Chelsea Fox & Rachel Guidry

Ashley Atkinson & Allie Noah

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite, Teresa Allen & Debbie Dodge


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February 20th to March 1st Feb 20-22, Feb 27-29 at 7:30pm Feb 23 and Mar 1 at 2pm Set in the small fictional town of Lenoraville, Alabama, Maytag Virgin tells the story of recently widowed Elizabeth Nash and her new next door neighbor, Jack Key. Lizzy grieves outwardly, but her inner world is filled with deep regret and secret longing. Maytag Virgin is the perfect feel-good romantic dramatic comedy with heart.

Emerald Coast Theatre Company is located at 560 Grand Boulevard, Suite 200 in Miramar Beach. The entrance is on the south side of the building facing Highway 98, take the stairs or elevator to the second floor.

Tickets or info, call 850-684-0323 or visit


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VIP Destin at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Holly Dawkins, Aleta & Dave Jefferson, Ruth Edwards

Carlton Robinson & Kellie Jo Kilberg

Power of Business

photos & story by Zhalman Harris

Juliet Milam & Lane Redding


he Walton Area Chamber kicked-off 2020 honoring those who have volunteered their time mentoring the next generation of leaders, and those who have worked tirelessly in 2019 to make the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce one of the community’s leading organizations. This Power of Business Luncheon, dubbed “January Mentor Appreciation”, was sponsored by Randy Wise Homes and took place on January 15 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The luncheon’s speaker was Carlton Robinson, PhD, the VP of Entrepreneurial Growth of the JAX Chamber in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a founder and innovative enthusiast with expertise in entrepreneurship and small business, focusing on building a strong venture capital base and growing the entrepreneurial environment in the Jacksonville area.

Jimy Thorpe & Janet Piepul

Carly Harmer & Marcia Hull

Maria Bianchi, Jerry Bryant, Michelle Williams & Susan Pace February 2020 | 49

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VIP Destin at Power of Business Luncheon

Megan Waldstien & Alison Nazarowski

Taylor Sheekley, Jessica Bracken & Bob Adams

Shanelle Lucas & Savannah Juneau

Amanda Reeves, Danielle Laurenza & Haven Hamrick 50


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story by Liesel Schmidt

ommanding attention with their signature burst of green, gold, and purple, King Cakes are a long-standing Mardi Grads tradition, the rich, bright bread covered in flash and flair and full of celebratory fun. But there’s far more than simple sugar to this royally-robed treat, and hidden inside its cinnamon-spiced layers is a reminder of where the bread got its name, a story-teller of the tiny baby whose birth called ancient kings from afar to bring priceless gifts during the season of Epiphany. The King Cake has many iterations all over the world, but nowhere in America has this baked confection more fully taken hold than in the Gulf South, where Mardi Gras gets into full swing with parades aplenty and the region indulges in the good times in every way they can. Offering a creative take on these beloved seasonal confections are King Cake cocktails; and bars and restaurants all over the region are getting in on the fun, mixing up everything from martinis, old fashioneds, daiquiris, and shots to “King Cake-infused� vodkas, all of them evocative of the flavor profi les, and uninhibited fun, of King Cakes. Think sweet, with notes of cinnamon and vanilla. In the case of creamy drinks, some even include the use of cream cheese, an ingredient common to King Cakes. Naturally, the spirit of Mardi Gras lends itself well to these inventive spirits... after all, what is Mardi Gras without the festivity, fun, and overindulgence? And while King Cakes traditionally have the baby hidden inside, these festive libations still make good on the theme with their colorful accents and rich flavors.

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!"#$%&'#"(& )%*+&,"-.& ,/0-1"%2 (Serves 2) !"#$%&!%"'()

Green, purple, and yellow sanding sugar 3 oz. King Cake flavored vodka 1 oz. Grand Marnier 1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream 3 oz. half and half, optional Ground cinnamon &!$%*'!+"()

Add a thick line of each of the green, purple, and gold sanding sugars on a plate, being sure to keep them distinct and separate from one another. Wet the rim of a martini glass, then press the rim into the colored sugar, being careful not to mix the colors. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, Grand Marnier, and Bailey’s with ice (and half and half, if a creamier drink is desired). Shake well, then strain into the rimmed glass. Dust the top lightly with cinnamon and enjoy!

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February 2020 | 53

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VIP Destin at Destin Life Center




photos & story by Zhalman Harris

he Governing Board of the new Destin High School (DHS), currently in the planning stages, recently held a Town Hall Pep Rally in the gymnasium of Destin United Methodist Church, the soon to be acquired site of DHS, on January 17. The energetic and well-attended event saw over 400 adults and future students. Attendees learned everything there is to know about the new tuition-free public charter high school, including how to apply for 9th and 10th grade students in DHS’s first 20202021 school year. The winners were also announced for the DHS school colors, logo, and mascot contest that was held a few months ago. Destin residents Allen and Dee Dee Phillips donated a generous $200,000, and others in attendance donated another $22,000. This brought the total of funds raised to $412,707.63 by area businesses, individuals, and the community towards the $2 million capital campaign goal. A fun reveal of the DHS shark mascot in full costume was done to the background music of the famous movie Jaws, and cannon bursts of confetti with the Destin Middle School cheerleaders doing the first official DHS cheer.

Frank Berte & Myra Williams

Jodi & Drew Palmer

Wes, Jeff, Ava & Bonnie Hinkle

Mel & Mona Ponder 54

Marcus Chambers & Marti Gardner

Mari King, Kaelin Rich, Gabby Ianni, Katrina Miille & Kaylynn Hales


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Voted Best In Destin

THANK YOU The #1 Resort on Floridaí s Emerald Coast! Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort ≠ Voted Best Resort Island Clothiers ≠ Voted Best Men's Clothing Coconut Kidz ≠ Voted Best Children's Clothing Island Clothiers and Coconut Kidz are located in the Village of Baytowne Wharf.

850 988 7590 ï ï

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VIP Destin at Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

Step One Automotive Group

photos & story by Zhalman Harris


t’s rare to find companies today that cater to their employees, their clients, and the community where they operate. With a promise to take care of his people, General Manager Fernando Arellano is doing just that. From giving his employees a great place to work, to helping veterans and supporting non-profit organizations in the Panhandle, Step One Automotive Group stands by their word and always delivers. Guests had a blast at the company’s annual Christmas party at the Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Fort Walton Beach. Santa and Mrs. Claus kicked off the party with stocking gifts for all of the children. The evening offered great food, enticing adult beverages, and great music from the DJ. Guests at the party included the Chairman of the Board at Step One Automotive Group, Juan Carlos, a few high ranking state and city officials, and professional athletes. Plaques and awards were given to chosen stand-out employees.

Samantha, Danny & Charlotte Gusoff, Sarah Peavy

Fernando Arellano & Marcello Altini

Hanna Painter & Madison Brewer

Gavi Leon & Scarlett Young

Hope Standridge, Leigha Holloway, Bree Hammac & Megan Reed

Luisa & Luis Hencker

February 2020 | 57

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VIP Destin at Step One Automotive Group Christmas Party

Kristen & Bobby Cathey

Danielle McKinney & Alycia Dukes

Dion Stakley & Chris Daggs

Kyle & Charlie Bushaw

Danny Showalter & Sean Hacia 58

Jared Marquardt & Amanda Davis

Ryan & Elizabeth Keesler

Juan Carlos & Tori Jones

Joanna & Jose Diaz

Verla Price & Patti Hall


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Evan Divona & Jessica Brown

Raffaella Fant, Mel Ponder & Jessica Bracken

Carolyn Ketchel & Bernard Johnson

Maureen & Donald Bierman, Rebecca Scott February 2020 | 59

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VIP Destin at HarborWalk Village

photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


arborWalk Village on the Destin Harbor at Emerald Grande has restaurants, activities, and entertainment year round. Every Sunday at 11:00am from January 12-February 23, Brunch, Rhythm & Blues has brunch at Margaritaville and Harry T’s Lighthouse, and from 2:00pm until 4:00pm a band performs on the main stage. The Northwest Florida State College Jazz Band’s performance entertained the window shoppers along with friends, family, and music lovers that came to see them play on January 19. They played favorite popular songs, and included two of the show choice singers to join in the performance directed by Fred Domulot. Domulot expressed that this great event was for the kids, and how much they look forward to it every year, even when it’s cold out, noting, “They start asking about it months before hand to make sure we’ll be at the Winter Brunch, Rhythm & Brews.” Upcoming performances include The Two HooDoos on February 9, Bobby D Duo on February 16, and Joe Fingas on February 23.

Gary & Debbie Chaplain

Andrea Staats & Robert Schoemaker

Tyler Gorma & Grace Mayo

Mae LeRoy & Lindsay Lacasse

Brady & Lindsay Adcox

Gabrielle & Isabelle Schiack February 2020 | 61

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VIP Destin at HarborWalk Village

Monique & Dan Smith

Vanessa & Jean Barrett

Murray Matheson & Ray McClelland

Bridget Lyons, Kyle Eastman & Cindy Eastman

Karen Matheson, Sue Trenholm & Judy McClelland

Do McCutcheon & Braden Eagar

Zach Rolison & Ryan Rolison 62

Bob & Sharen Gardner

Jim & Lynda Walton, Ruth & Fred Skatts


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February 2020 | 63

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VIP Destin at Emerald Grande

Business Before Hours photos & story by Zhalman Harris


estin Chamber of Commerce held their Business Before Hours at Emerald Grande on January 10. The event was sponsored by Warren Averett, LLC, and celebrated the installation of the 2020 Board of Directors, and the passing of the gavel from 2019 Chairman Julie Cotton to 2020 Chairman Dion Moniz. For each Chamber breakfast, lunch, or after hours attended, members earned an entry to win a prize at the annual membership meeting. The prizes were valuable, ranging from $500 to $2,560. Chamber member and event sponsor Warren Averett is a full-service accounting and consulting firm providing an integrated approach to financial services, including audit and accounting, business consulting, employee benefits consulting and plan administration, information technology, tax planning and preparation, and wealth management.

Tim Kersanac & Lisa Buchman

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Lynn Wesson & Myra Williams February 2020 | 65

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VIP Destin at Business Before Hours

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Mindy & Dion Moniz

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Julie, Callie & Byron Cotton


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February 2020 | 67

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

An ECCAC look back… twenty years of helping heal children. story & photos by Kay Phelan

Their Heartbreaking Story …A 6-year-old sexually abused by the grandfather. …A 12-year-old with severe burns that were getting no attention. …The young child who witnessed one of their parents being brutally murdered. These are but a few of the many children right here in the local community that have been helped by ECCAC. They not only bring all organizations together so the judicial and healing process can be easier for the children who are victims of abandonment, abuse or neglect, they also provide mental health therapy for the children involved as well as their families.

The Beginning for ECCAC A complex child sexual abuse case in the mid 1990s occurred. Because of that crime, a group of prosecutors, the Department of Children and Families, the Child Protection Team of medical personnel, and forensic interviewers, various law enforcement agencies, and mental health professionals gathered to find a better way to manage child abuse cases in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. After researching several options, the group discovered the concept of a children’s advocacy center, a system of care originating from Huntsville, Alabama. The premise was instead of a child having to tell their story in multiple locations to multiple professionals, multiple times, a child would go to one child-friendly place where professionals would come to the child. Professionals would listen to the child’s disclosure together. The end result would be that by working together services could be wrapped around the child and family while holding the offender accountable. They chose the best practice model to house as many agencies under one roof as possible to accommodate the needs of the children. Julie Hurst, now Julie Porterfield, is a special lady with a big heart when it comes to the well-being of children. She was at the forefront of this major undertaking. In 1999, she became the founding CEO of ECCAC. During the first few years of the 501-C-3 organization’s beginning, her passion, dedication, and energy, along with the financial support of the community and a strong volunteer base, enabled a $2.1 million, 13,000 square foot new center to be built and open in Niceville, Okaloosa County, in October of 2000. 68

But before the Niceville center became a reality, a grassroots community and governmental efforts established the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in 1997. A small 900 square foot office was opened in what was once a dry cleaner in Valparaiso. Following a successful capital campaign, the Niceville Center grew out of the ground led by builder Randy Wise, architect Allen McGinnis, and interior designers Jan Strunk and Debbie Wise. All donated their talents to create a child-friendly place where children could still be children while working through the abuse they experienced.. “I am honored to say that now, 20 years and 14,000 children later, we have brought hope and healing, and restored childhoods often lost to abuse,” said CEO Julie Porterfield. “The Niceville Center began with only 3 staff members and has now grown to 21. We started with a budget of $180,000 in 2000, the budget today is $1.6 million.” Over the years, Porterfield’s diligence and dedication enabled the construction of a second center to be built in DeFuniak Springs to accommodate Walton County children named the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center. Thanks in part to the lead gift of the Pierce family and the generous donation of the Dugas Family Foundation, this $3.2 million, 15,000 square foot building with 45 offices and staff officially opened in April of 2016.

The ECCAC Team and Dream Continued to Grow Over the past 20 years, ECCAC programs have grown in many ways. Both Centers have established a sound mental health program. Jacqui Broadus is the mental health clinical supervisor. Under her leadership, ECCAC has developed an animal assisted therapy program. A program that began with only one therapist has now grown to five therapists and two therapy pups and several volunteer therapy dogs and their handlers. There are extensive play therapy set-ups and lovable therapy dogs on hand to work with the children, too. These therapeutic services offered are critical to the overall long-term well-being of the children seen each and Riley, ECCAC’s first every day. trained therapy dog.


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ECCAC can easily say they have provided more than 50,000 hours of counseling. The advocacy program has grown from one advocate to three. Advocates are the backbone, ensuring that children and families understand ECCAC’s role. They work with the families to ensure they have the resources they need to overcome the trauma to include referral and follow up to therapy, clothing, food, and other necessities. Along with ECCAC’s agency partners, as of 2019, they can easily say they have provided more than 150,000 services to 14,000 children and their families at no cost. ECCAC is a fully accredited member of the National Children’s Advocacy Center non-profit organization. There are 777 Centers across the country, with 27 of them located in the state of Florida.

Prevention is the Key It is hard to believe there are approximately 1,100 cases of child sexual and physical abuse reported annually in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, an average of three per day. Despite those big numbers, nearly 2/3 of the actual needs to help child victims go unmet due to lack of reporting to authorities. It is estimated that for every one child ECCAC helps, there are two out there who need ECCAC.

Prevention education programs are key. They can help eliminate 95% of child abuse.

Children’s painted tiles line the walls at both centers.

Prevention Programs Rule…Enter Child Safety Matters This important prevention program was implemented by ECCAC in the 2017/2018 school year. Research shows that 95% of abuse of children is preventable through education. • In age groups 5 to 13, approximately 1,430 Child Safety Matters classes have been taught to 2,942 students in Walton County and 23,391 in Okaloosa County. • There have been 31 disclosures of some type of abuse or neglect in both counties. • Teen Safety Matters has now been added by ECCAC to reach teenagers in both counties. As well, ECCAC has been doing Mandated Reporter Training classes for Okaloosa and Walton County EMS, Department of Health staff, as well as school district staff. To date, over 8,000+ adults have gone through the ECCAC hosted classes. Many do not realize it is the law in Florida that if any person 18 and older knows or suspects a child is being abused, they are required to report it to authorities. As a result, there has already been an exponential increase in mandated reporters coming forth with reported incidents. For more information about donating, volunteering, or the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit or call (850) 833-9237.

The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) provides services at no cost for young victims and their families in a childfriendly environment. All support services and personnel are under one roof. There are two centers, one in Niceville in Okaloosa County, and the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs in Walton County. Neither location provides housing for children. Congratulations ECCAC on 20 Years of Healing Services for the Children! February 2020 | 69

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!!!"#$!%&'()*!+(!790 on the Gulf

Destin Chamber

Business After Hours


photos & story by Zhalman Harris

estin Chamber of Commerce held their first Business After Hours for 2020 at 790 on the Gulf. The locally owned restaurant gave guests a perfect view of the Gulf and the beautiful sunset, while enjoying a relaxed after-work day of networking and enjoying delicious cocktails and appetizers. As always, lucky guests went home with door prizes at the end of the evening. Business After Hours events offer an end-of-the-day networking opportunity to help you meet new clients, promote your business, and expand your network. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres are served, and guests are reminded to bring business cards for networking and door prize drawings. All businesses are invited to bring a door prize, which offers one more way to promote businesses.

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Benefi tting

Presented by

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Making People

!"##$ story by Courtney Murray


ntertainment can make or break an event. Nothing can spoil a wedding like a cheesy DJ or ruin a party like bad lighting. Entertainment guru Matt Powell knows a thing or two about pulling off event entertainment seamlessly! He’s been a musician practically his entire life, getting his first set of drums and first stepping into the limelight in the 3rd grade. Matt took the stage live in front of his whole school which spawned his love for drumming and performing. These were the stepping stones for building his passion for DJ’ing, which led to receiving his first job at the age of 14 DJ’ing at the local skating rink. Matt continued drumming his way through high school and DJ’ing all the parties, even playing in an all original band. “After high school our original band stuck together for another 5 years and I also became one of Atlanta’s big club DJ’s on the weekends,” said Matt. Matt then felt it was time to shift his entertainment angle to the wedding and private events scene and started his own business in Atlanta DJ’ing weddings and events. With all of this experience under his belt, Matt went on to be hired by Princess Cruise Lines as Entertainment Director where he spent nearly four years entertaining thousands of people every day all over the world. After having his fi ll of life at sea, Matt decided he needed a change of pace. Instead of returning to Atlanta, he picked up and moved to Pensacola and became the Entertainment Director of Seville Quarter. “It was the closest thing to being a cruise director that I could find,” Matt explained, “It’s basically a cruise ship on land.” It was after six years in that position that he decided to start his own company alongside his wife Janie; Powell Entertainment.

“My favorite part of the job is watching people enjoy our workÖ making people happy is my passion.” Their statistics are staggering; in three short years they have done over 300 weddings and over 400 special events. Their team is constantly evolving, “DJ’ing is the backbone of my career that got us to where we are. Making sure we are the best DJ’s in town will never move to the backburner as we explore new, exciting parts of the entertainment business such as lighting design décor,” explained Matt. They are now a team of six crew and DJ’s with a downtown warehouse and office space. In addition to Powell Entertainment, in the past year they have also opened Janie’s hair salon, Birchfield Beauty, and opened their downtown event space, the Rails on Wright St. Powell Entertainment is a jack of all trades where they provide DJ services, custom design lighting, draping, and audio/visuals for weddings, parties and events. Matt described, “My favorite part of the job is watching people enjoy our work... making people happy is my passion. When I see someone dancing and smiling or in awe of the environment that we created, it’s truly a rewarding experience that fi lls me with joy.” As they move forward, Powell Entertainment plans to keep evolving and keeping up with new technology to make their events and Pensacola the best they can be.

Details on packages and prices available at: 850.501.1078 ∑ 74


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Thank you for voting Best In Destin for Mortgage Services!

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You bring out the !"#$ in us! Thank you for voting Proffitt PR as the best Public Relations Firm and Event Planner

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FEBRUARY 7 50/50 on the Water Film Tour Legendary Marine 4601 Legendary Marina Drive | Destin 5:00pm – 8:00pm Come and enjoy this event to learn more about Fly Fishing in our area! Join us in inspiring, empowering, and celebrating women in fly fishing through a family-friendly night of fi lm and fellowship and fundraising! We are taking this great opportunity to also raise funds for the Emerald Coast Autism Center. Admission is FREE. Seating is limited! Must RSVP. Visit to RSVP and for more information.

FEBRUARY 8 FEBRUARY 8 9th Annual Apple Classic 5K Hammock Bay 1000 Great Hammock Bend Rd | Freeport 9:00am Start

La Lumière presents: Madly Giving The Lakehouse at Watercolor Inn & Resort 34 Goldenrod Circle | Santa Rosa Beach 3:00pm – 8:00pm “Don’t be late for this is a very important date... Alice in Wonderland.” Bring your friends down the rabbit hole and experience Wonderland! You will have endless drinks, experiences beyond your wildest imagination, and food served to your table throughout the party. You’ll also have two loyal footmen dedicated to your table to cater to your every whim and need, all while you help raise funds for Special Olympics Florida - Walton County and Westonwood Ranch. Visit to purchase tickets.

Let’s run, walk and educate for Walton County! Walton Education Foundation (WEF) proudly presents the 9th Annual Apple Classic 5k and 1-mile Fun Run in the community neighborhood of the beautiful Hammock Bay. Start/Finish Line is at the Town Square/Village Green where visitors can cheer runners as they cross the line. The event directly benefits Walton Education Foundation. Visit for more information and registration.

FEBRUARY 8 Mardi Gras Ball Emerald Coast Convention Center 1250 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE | Fort Walton Beach 7:00pm – 11:00:pm Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Come and enjoy the inaugural Mardi Gras Ball hosted by Fresh Start for Children and Families. The event will feature silent auctions, food, music, and lots of dancing. Visit to purchase tickets.



Tropical Re-Union Wedding Vow Renewal

Sandestin Gumbo Festival

Lulu’s Destin 4607 Legendary Marina Drive | Destin 2:00pm – 4:00pm

The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9100 Baytowne Blvd. | Miramar Beach Friday 5:00pm – 7:00pm | Saturday 12:00 – 4:00pm

Looking for a romantic Valentine’s Day present for your spouse? Celebrate your love and commitment by officially renewing your wedding vows at LuLu’s. There will be complimentary champagne toasts, a wedding cake and flowers for the “brides”. Prizes will be awarded to the couples who were married the longest, shortest, and who are dressed the most festively.

Light roux, dark roux, seafood, sausage, chicken, the mouth-watering aroma of onion, garlic, and tomatoes in the air... The Sandestin Gumbo Cook-off is simmering! Gulf Coast restaurants will be featuring their top secret recipes! Spend the day sampling a variety of gumbo- dark of light roux? Chicken & Sausage or seafood? Then, vote for your favorite for the “People’s Choice Award.” Celebrity judges will name the “Area’s Best,” and award the most creative set-up as “Best Display.” Visit for a full event schedule.

To register visit or call (850) 710-5858. February 2020 | 79

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FEBRUARY 14 & 16


Crescendo! 2020

Pins & Pancakes

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa 4000 Sandestin Boulevard S | Miramar Beach Sunday 11:00am – 2:00pm

Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill Destin Commons 4251 Legendary Drive | Destin

La Vie en Rosé ~ Sinfonia “redefines” charitable events with this energy-infused 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. Crescendo! is an exciting cultural extravaganza to benefit Sinfonia Gulf Coast and its music education and community engagement initiatives throughout Northwest Florida.

We’re bowling (and eating) for a great cause! We’ll have a pancake breakfast buffet, networking, a cash bar, and a silent auction. The Destin Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to raise funds to improve our waterways. Call 850-837-6241 or visit DestinChamber. com for more information or to reserve your corporate lane sponsorship.

Visit for more information.

FEBRUARY 22 Mardi Gras Parade & Pawdi Gras HarborWalk Village 10 Harbor Boulevard | Destin 2:00pm – 7:00pm Fais Do-Do takes the stage at 2:00 pm followed by beads, dazzling floats & street performers as the parade rolls at 4:00pm. Enter your pup in a spirited Pawdi Gras Pet Costume contest following the parade! Registration starts at 5:00pm. All proceeds from the registration will be donated to Alaqua Animal Refuge. Visit for event information.

FEBRUARY 23 Mardi Gras Dog Parade The Village of Baytowne Wharf Sandestin Beach Golf Resort 2:00pm – 4:00pm The Village streets will be fi lled with costumed dogs and their humans throwing a myriad of throws, beads, and parade favors. Themed convertibles, small floats (pulled by masters), golf carts, bicycles, and decorated wagons will be everywhere and Mardi Gras music will fi ll the air! The Mardi Gras dog parade is one of the premier canine events on the Emerald Coast with members of the four-pawed community coming far and wide to participate. For additional details and registration, visit



Shrimp & Grits Fest

Cinderella’s Masquerade Gala

Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer 210 Harbor Boulevard | Destin 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Mattie Kelly Arts Center Northwest Florida State College 100 College Boulevard E | Niceville

The Destin Harbor’s newest event is bringing you family fun along with amazing food and drinks. Featuring local restaurants as they compete for the best shrimp and grits dish on the Harbor. Enjoy amazing food, great drinks, live music and a kids zone for the little ones all while benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast.

Join Northwest Florida Ballet as they celebrate 50 incredible years with the Cinderella Masquerade Gala. This enchanting black-tie celebration includes a cocktail reception, performance with the NFB Symphony Orchestra of Cinderella’s Act II and concludes with dinner on the main stage. Proceeds from the event will benefit the NFB Academie Academic Classroom Capital Campaign.

Visit to purchase tickets and for more event information.

For information on the event or to purchase tickets, please email

Visit for more events! 80 |

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LOCALE O HCA Healthcare’s North Florida Division Invests More Than $305M In Panhandle Hospital Improvements Since 2015 Heading into 2020, patients across the Florida Panhandle will have access to larger, newer, state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, thanks to expansions and upgrades at four local hospitals.

Since 2015, four HCA Healthcare North Florida Division hospitals have invested in 19 expansion and renovation projects totaling more than $305 million. The projects have created an additional 116 inpatient beds and 48 emergency room beds for patients across the Panhandle. In total, patients in the Panhandle have access to 32 sites of care that include 4 hospitals, 2 freestanding emergency rooms, 2 urgent care center/walk in clinics, 1 same day surgery center and 23 physician practice locations. By the end of 2020, we will have opened an additional 3 free standing emergency rooms in Pensacola, Panama City and Navarre. The hospitals are Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in Panama City, Niceville’s Twin Cities Hospital, and West Florida Hospital. Additional support and economic impact include was provided to Hurricane Michael Colleague Investment. “Each of these projects reflects our commitment to ensuring residents of the Panhandle always have access to outstanding quality medical care when they need it most,” added Michael P. Joyce, President, HCA Healthcare North Florida Division. “By creating additional access points and capacity, we look forward to serving more patients and acting as a resource and partner to these communities.” To learn more about HCA Healthcare North Florida, visit

Pickos Ski School to Host 2020 IWWF World Junior Waterski Championships in Santa Rosa Beach 30 Countries from Around the World to Gather for International Competition. Pickos Ski School, located at 105 Jump Street, has announced they will be the official host for the 2020 International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) World Junior Waterski Championships to be held on August 18- 23, 2020. Pickos Ski School is one of the top destinations for waterskiers from all over the world. Each year, welcoming over 40 locals and 350 international water-skiers to train and compete at their state-of-the-art facility. The IWWF World Junior Waterski Championships are held every other year around the world. Each country has the opportunity to send their best skiers to the event. This will be the IWWF’s 18th World Junior competition. These junior water-skiers are some of the best in the world and are looking to win a world title and continue onto the IWWF World Open Championships the following year. The week-long competition, sponsored by Visit South Walton, will begin with check-in on Sunday-Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the official “Familiarization Days”. Preliminary Rounds will begin on Thursday morning and continue throughout Friday afternoon. The final rounds of competition will be held on Saturday and will conclude with an awards ceremony. Then on Sunday the best competitors of those final rounds will compete for the Overall Awards. The competition will officially end with a closing ceremony seated dinner. To learn more about Pickos Ski School visit To learn more about the 2020 IWWF World Junior Waterski Championships visit http://iwwf. sport.

Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club Partners with NBC Golf Channel’s Mike Malizia Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club announced their partnership with NBC Golf Channel Academy lead coach, Mike Malizia, to launch a series of short game schools for club members. Malizia, regularly featured on NBC Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” and “Golf Academy”, was recently recognized as one of the top 50 instructors in Florida by Golf Digest. Prior to instructing, he played in the PGA and Nationwide Tours for 15 years. Malizia currently teaches at Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club and works with active PGA Tour players. Carter Murchison, PGA Golf Instructor for Santa Rosa, has been a director of instruction for more than 35 years and is a Class A PGA Professional. He has also qualified and competed in five PGA National Club Professional Championships and has established four course records in his professional playing career. Murchison and Malizia have joined forces to offer club members an in-depth training on techniques used around the green to improve their game and lower their scores. The short game schools will utilize the club’s new short game area, which opened in September 2019. The area includes a 6,200 square foot green complex and two bunkers, showcasing an enticing preview to the full course renovation scheduled to break ground in 2021. For those wanting to improve your short game play and have fun in the process, this short game school is for you. Learn more about Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club at February 2020 | 83

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Destin Chamber

!"#$%&'()*+, photos & story by

Zhalman Harris


estin Chamber of Commerce held their annual Awards Night celebration at the Emerald Grande. The event was sponsored by Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital to celebrate the successes of 2019 and honor outstanding community members. There were almost 200 guests in attendance to enjoy the festivities, great food, and a fantastic atmosphere. Surrounded by the festive décor of Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village, 2019 Destin Chamber Chairman Julie Cotton of Northwest Florida State College presented the awards to four well deserving recipients. Michelle Terry of Dale E. Peterson Realty received the James D. Nelson, Sr. Award for Volunteer Service, Mitch Monjell of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center snagged the Business Person of the Year Award, and The Ann Gibson Community Service award was presented to Allen French for his role in beautifying our community with trees through his organization Trees on the Coast. The final award of the evening went to Fred Fenn of Paradise Properties, LLC as Ambassador of the Year with the Paul Woolman Award. During the event, Ms. Cotton also recognized the Chamber’s outgoing board members, including Vickie Giles of ResortQuest and Michelle Terry of Dale E. Peterson Realty, and thanked all of her sponsors and those who made this year’s event a success.

Mindy & Dion Moniz

Rebecca Miller & Kathy Whidden

Ron Couget & Cathy Jones

Bill Head & Ken Hair

Gary & Pam Jarvis

Renee & David Butler February 2020 | 85

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Heather & Dennis Ruiz

Kevin & Tammie Boyer

Leslie Moland, Angie Tubb, Vicki Tarro & Allie Noah


Shannon Roberts & Alexis Evans

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Elizabeth & Jason Conner

Jenni Brunson & Bobby Parker

Merri & Joe Adsit

Hilaree Durso & Shantelle Dedicke

Allen French, Fred Fenn, Michelle Terry, Mitch Mongell & Julie Cotton


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Joey & Christine Martinez

Shane Moody, Mel Ponder & Ted Corcoran

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Tonya Rauch, Rebekah Manley & Rachel Velasquez

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Leslie & Jerry Sullivan, Verla Price February 2020 | 87

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Bracken Law, PA serves the areas of Destin, 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Panama City Beach, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


(850) 792-2677 | | 30A | 2930 W. County Highway 30A, Suite 210 | Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 Holiday Plaza | 12273 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 107 | Miramar Beach, FL 32550


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What is your hometown, what brought you here to the Emerald Coast, and how log have you lived here? I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey and lived in the surrounding areas until I moved here along with my mom and daughter almost 29 years ago after my divorce and right after my daughter Valerie turned 5. I wanted her to grow up away from the hustle and bustle of a large city which was becoming increasingly crime-ridden, so we decided to head this way for an easier, quieter and more peaceful life. I was a Realtor with a Century 21 company in Irvington, New Jersey and also an Office Manager in a large office supply company before moving here. We had intended to move to Crestview where we have many relatives, but when our Realtor mailed us a video showcasing some really great homes in the Destin and Bluewater Bay area, we fell in love with the white sandy beaches and the friendly people and decided to come here instead. We weren’t familiar with this area at all until our Realtor sent us the video before arriving here so we could get a feel for the area. It worked! We saw upon arrival that the Emerald Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we couldn’t wait to get back to New Jersey and pack up. We decided on a large mother/daughter house in Bluewater Bay, which is only a hop, a skip and a jump to Destin from our “bedroom community” of Bluewater Bay. Destin is a great place to shop and also dine at some great restaurants and also enjoy all the swimming and other water sports within mere minutes from our home. This is paradise! When we moved here, I quickly jumped back into the real estate field and our Realtor became my Broker at RE/MAX by the Bay. After a while that office closed down and I began working at RE/ MAX Southern Realty in Destin. After a couple of years, I realized that my real calling was working with children and so I wrote a prevention grant proposal for the Florida Department of Juvenile Detention in 1999 and it was accepted and so it began... What do you like best about Destin? I like (love) Destin because there are so many things to do and see here.... including some great restaurants, some unique shopping experiences and loads of things for children to do and explore. This is extremely important to me because my granddaughter Elizabeth who just turned 4 in December has many opportunities to get involved in many different activities. She’s now taking tennis lessons at the exact same tennis center where her mother began her lessons 28 years ago at the age of 5. The circle of life!. Compassionate. Motherly. Forgiving. Finish this statement, I AM DESTIN because… I’m content...I’m HOME!

XX IamDestin.indd 1

photo by Zhalman Harris

What are three words that best describe you?

1/30/20 9:07 AM

91.indd 1

1/31/20 12:44 PM

92.indd 1

1/31/20 12:44 PM