For the Love of Pets
For many of us, pets are an essential part of our lives. They greet us at the door when we come home, snuggle up with us on the couch, and provide unconditional love and companionship. Pets also offer many other bene ts, including improving physical and mental health. It is said that pets can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Let’s stop right there and add a little truth to that statement. The stress from life will diminish and be redirected to your pet. You will nd yourself constantly worrying about your furry friend’s well-being, from making sure they are fed and walked to taking them to the vet. Your worldly possessions will suffer. The carpets need cleaned, the couch will be chewed, shoes hidden, and jewelry buried in the yard. The list goes on and on, yet you will be happier than you can imagine.
I have had my share of pets, from farm animals to guppies, and each have a special place in my heart. I am sure my mother dreaded seeing me at the door some days as many times I came home from school packing a stray or injured animal. I have some great rescue stories and some that crashed and burned. Like the time Dad was selling the calves and I let them out to run to safety in the elds. That little rescue attempt hurt me a lot more in my tush than in my heart.
Fred, a little Beagle Brittany Spaniel mix, holds the biggest part of my heart. I found him at a kill shelter on his last day which proved to be the luckiest day of my life. We were inseparable for 15 years and he was the bravest dog I have ever met. We sped along on four wheelers, street bikes, jet skis, and snowmobiles with Fred yelping in excitement. He begged to be included on the dirt bike rides so I glued carpet to the tank so he could stand and not slip off. His passing crushed my very soul and still hurts to this day. Even a broken heart could not stop me from saving yet another rescue, my beloved Lady Isabella Grace aka “Izzy,” who came from a puppy mill bust. All animals give their love to you when you become their person, and some are not always soft and uffy. I still think of my parakeet from time to time and a bearded dragon that sat on my dresser for a few years watching over me. As you read through the editorial in this issue maybe you will nd a few reasons to look for a new companion.
If you know of a non-pro t or charity holding an event you would like to see featured in VIP Destin Magazine, please call me. Our mission at VIP Destin is to support as many non-pro t causes as possible. Follow VIP Destin on our social media channels and follow me on Facebook @VerlaParsonsPrice.
Thank YOU for supporting VIP Destin; please be kind, courteous, and shop local.
Walton Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala
Walton Area Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Awards Gala at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa on March 31. The theme was “Whimsical Wonderland,” a play on Alice in Wonderland. The event was an evening of playful fashion with some guests dressed in colorful and quirky attire. The gala began with a cocktail reception while attendees sipped drinks, mingled with other guests, watched a juggler perform, and bid on fanciful desserts and a variety of vacation packages.
During this yearly celebration, guests helped to salute the successes of the past year, share the Chamber’s vision for the future, and enjoy top-notch entertainment. The Chamber CEO, Megan Harrison, was the night’s master of ceremonies as the community was invited to celebrate the successes of 2022, while looking toward the future and how the Walton County area will continue to grow and move forward.
During the dinner portion of the evening, the Chamber named the 2023 Board of Directors, installed the Young Professionals of Walton County’s 2023 Board of Directors, and gave out several awards nominated by the community. The distinguished awards given were: Young Professional of the Year, Small Business of the Year – North Walton, Small Business of the Year – South Walton, Large Business of the Year, and finally, the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year.
Attendees enjoyed a delicious meal, watched as the gavel was passed, and raised glasses to the companies and volunteers who partner with the Chamber to be the voice of businesses, create jobs, and help their members thrive. The Walton Area Chamber has been around for nearly a century, working hard to be the driving force to promote, develop and advocate for successful businesses in the community.
Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown
It was the 17th Annual Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown Weekend showcasing a wine dinner at Emeril’s Coastal, golf tournament at Burnt Pine Country Club and the BBQ food and wine nalé at Churchill Oaks Clubhouse. Event chairs, Emeril and Alden Lagasse and Mike and Valerie Thompson presented an energetic Throwdown with a live auction emceed by famous auctioneer from Los Angeles, DawnMarie Kotsonis, also known as “The Gavel Girl”. The Emeril Lagassse Foundation staff, decked out as characters from Harry Potter, orchestrated the Throwdown Weekend with its popular BBQ competition, acclaimed winemakers and others making up ve impressive BBQ pit master teams vying for the ‘porktastic’ Perpetual Throwdown Championship. Vintners from Bricoleur, Convene, Thompson 31Fifty, Greystack, Selah, Frías Family Vineyard, Williams Selyem and Chateau Gaby, among others, joined Chef Emeril Lagasse, Chef Tommy Watcher, and Chef Tim Creehan to present delicious
offerings to the 250 guests in attendance. This year, You’re a Good Pitmaster Charlie Brown won for creating the best BBQ Ribs. Awards were also given to team Night At The BBQ for Best Sides, and team Pirates of the Smokehouse for Best Theme. As well, this year’s People’s Choice winner was team National Lampoon’s Christmas BBQ.
The event started with select wines poured by winemakers with hors d’oeuvres by Messina’s Catering. The fundraising continued with silent and live auctions. The evening concluded with dancing under the stars with live entertainment by the Trest Richerson Band with special guest performances by singers Josh Mirenda and Mitch Malloy. Emeril Lagasse made a special guest appearance masterfully playing the drums for a few songs.
Bene ting charities from the event included: Alaqua Animal Refuge, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Food for Thought Outreach, The Ingram Lee Foundation, and Sinfonia Gulf Coast.George Sr. & Catherine Brannon, George Brannon Jr. Emeril & Alden Lagasse, Val & Mike Thompson 2023 Perpetual Throwdown Champions, You’re a Good Pitmaster Charlie Brown
VIP Destin at 17th Annual Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown
BEST REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL - FEMALE
BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY
BESST PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY
“Helping our agents and employees reach their maximum potential regarding customers, transactions, personal development, and community outreach.”
This is the standard that Jacqui Luberto has upheld throughout the Panhandle as the Broker/Owner of Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast, ONE Family Property Services, Emerald Coast Referral Network, and the Co-Owner of Defender Insurance.
Born and raised in Pensacola, she has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, originating back to when she started working at the age of 12 for her parents who were both small business owners. When she grew older, she married her husband Matt who is a Veteran of the United States Air Force. To help support her family, she used her degree in Business Administration and Marketing as a GS Manpower Analyst for the U.S. Air Force and led a management team for privatized base housing. Fast forward to St. Patrick’s Day 2020 when she opened her ﬁrst brokerage location in Destin, Florida – as the world shut down due to the COVID Pandemic. Jacqui rose up to this challenge and created the mission to be a leader in her community and create a culture where everyone feels empowered to have a seat at the table of their choosing.
Jacqui has trained, coached, and mentored over 175 agents, team members, and staff, covering all areas from Pensacola to Panama City. More recently, she created the Emerald Coast Leadership Panel as a way for agents to connect outside of the industry, along with creating an outlet for agents to connect with other real estate related industry professionals. In just three short years, 12 of these panel meetings have been facilitated, which in turn has helped build a better industry related community and network. All of this could not have been possible without the agents and employees that share a dedication to service and quality business for customers.
VIP Destin Magazine
Local business people, friends, and clients gathered on April 6 for the reveal of VIP Destin Magazine’s April issue featuring Diana Nikalova, regional manager of Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant, and Leo Rosas on the cover. Vin’tij Food & Wine owner Todd Reber hosted the event at his award-winning restaurant in the Grand Boulevard Shopping Center in Sandestin. Chef Ignacio Bernal prepared a delicious array of hors d’oeuvres for guests to enjoy with their various wines. Attendees enjoyed an evening of networking and camaraderie while perusing the latest VIP Destin Magazine issue which featured the highlights and photos from the Best in Destin Black Tie Ball. The April issue’s Coastal Cuisine featured Vin’tij Food & Wine, along with Business Pro les on Farrow Contracting, SRI Roo ng, Liberty Cart Company, and isidro dunbar Modern Interiors.Savannah McQuaig & Jacqui Luberto Morag & Kevin Rosa Tim Vondell, Montana Farrow & John Farrow Diyana Nikalova & Leo Rosas Todd Reber & Chef Ignacio Bernal
Pearls & Prosecco
McCaskill & Company, Destin’s ne jewelry store, hosted a Pearls & Prosecco event on April 11-12 featuring local jewelry designer and founder of Bijoux de Mer, Renee Krul. Renee was on site for the event, showing her extensive pearl collection and designs. The shop was abuzz with people popping in for a peek at the collection and they were excited to take home a new one-of-a-kind piece from Renee. Prosecco was offered to the guests but their excitement over the jewelry offerings created an energy of its own.
Renee used this event as a celebration of her semi-retirement from her fashionable, ne jewelry business. Her beautiful materials, all handcrafted into stunning designs, are t for everyday wear. She was thrilled to see so many of her clients attending the event and leaving with a new treasure.
McCaskill & Company has been serving the ne jewelry needs of the Emerald Coast since 1995. They bring some of the world’s most exclusive designer jewelry and watches into their Destin showroom.photos & story by Greg Alexander Chris Chumakov & Renee Krull Tonie Troncalli-Eisa & Julie Smith David Kirk & Carolyn Brigman Shawn Tomasello & Sue Perez
7th Annual SOF Missions Destin Gala
To support those who have served, hundreds of people dressed up for an important event on April 8 at the Henderson Beach Resort. Everyday over 65 veterans take their lives, and the SOF Missions Destin Gala is a night when the community comes together to show support for military veterans and active-duty warriors. “This is our 7th Annual Destin Gala and we’re here to combat the suicide epidemic by raising funds to empower our veterans to nd purpose and be resilient,” Dr. Damon Friedman, President & Founder, SOF Missions. A cocktail social preceded the gala. When the hall doors opened, guests were greeted with live music and a row of auction items ranging from a 3-night stay Henderson Beach Resort package to a handmade-patriotic quilt. Founded in 2011, SOF Missions raises funds and offers resources to empower veterans. “How do we do this? We garner resources so that we can provide medical clinics to the men and women that have served faithfully,” said Dr. Friedman. Be Resilient Clinics support warriors by addressing 4-key components: psychological, social, physical and spiritual. Offered in 1-week intervals, these Florida-based clinics promote an atmosphere of relaxation and recovery. In addition to the Be Resilient Clinics, SOF Missions offers coordinated and collaborative care where veterans are provided healthcare and assistance.
Jacqui Luberto, Broker and Owner, Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast says, “Leaders volunteer and this is the one thing you can do for your community.” Jacqui lived that quote for years by successfully holding The Emerald Coast Agent Panel for real-estate professionals. However, Jacqui began seeing a need for more public involvement and on April 12 the rebranded Leadership Panel Emerald Coast met at Shoreline Church in Destin. Sponsored by Guy Brothers Roofing & Siding, the 6-person panel included area leaders Megan Harrison, Walton Area Chamber of Commerce; Nathan Abbott, eXp Realty; Jason Belcher, FNBT; Lauren Gall, L. Gall & Company; Adam Ward, Guy Brothers Roofing & Siding; and SMSgt Joe Pfeiler, USAF Retired.
“Collaboration empowers, encourages and motivates professionals in all career paths to achieve their goals and foster continued success,” said Gretta Barrett, Front Desk Manager - Destin Office, Realty ONE Group. With networking and an open discussion with audience interaction, the panel shared their experiences and went deep with personal development. Offering multi-level advice, Jason Belcher, Executive Vice President, FNBT Bank told the audience to, “get involved with something you are passionate in.” He continued, “be loyal and others will be loyal to you.”
With social media being such a huge part of today’s society, the panel mentioned that technology shouldn’t replace reality and that we should engage with nature. Conforming to what social media wants doesn’t allow people to flourish. The panel agreed that authenticity is more important than staging who you are or what others want you to be.
Pooch Inspired Hooch
Dogs have long been an inspiration for humans, they are man’s best friend after all. We pay tribute to them in our songs, books, plays, movies, and in our daily lives, so why not be an inspiration for our cocktails as well.
The Regal Beagle
* This regal cocktail is ﬁt for royalty, minus the very public family drama.
1 ½ oz vodka
2 lime wedges
1 tsp honey
5 oz grapefruit juice
Splash of dry white wine
Muddle the lime with honey and add ice before pouring vodka and grapefruit juice over the top and adding a splash of wine. Stir and garnish with a sprig of rosemary if desired.story by Anna McGauley Stockton
The Salty Dog Drink
* This drink can be altered to The Salty Chihuahua by using tequila instead of gin or vodka, no ankle biting re uired.
1 ½ oz gin (or vodka)
3 oz grapefruit juice
Salt (for the rim)
im a glass with salt, ﬁll the glass with ice and add gin (or vodka) and grapefruit juice. arnish with lime wedge.
The Bloodhound Cocktail
* ou’ll be hot on the trail of a good time with this vermouth forward cocktail.
½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz dry vermouth
1 oz gin
1 strawberry (cut into slices)
Mix the sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and gin in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain, pour into chilled glass, and top with a strawberry.
The Great Dane
* This gentle giant of a cocktail stands tall in the avor department, without weighing you down.
2 oz gin
1 oz cherry brandy
½ oz dry vermouth
1 tsp kirsch
Fill cocktail shaker with ice and pour in all ingredients before shaking. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. arnish with lemon or lime peel.
The Pink Poodle Cocktail
* This one will make you feel as fancy as a freshly groomed poodle, so prance all you’d like.
1 ½ oz vanilla vodka splash of grenadine syrup
Lemon/lime soda (such as 7-up or Sprite)
Pour the vanilla vodka and a splash of grenadine over ice and then ﬁll the rest of the glass with 7-up. Top with a cherry for the ﬁnale.
The Greyhound Drink
* While this drink will make you think you’re super-fast, we discourage any foot races post cocktail.
1 ½ oz vodka
3 oz grapefruit juice
Fill a glass with ice, pour in your vodka then add grapefruit juice. Stir. arnish with a lemon or lime wedge if desired.
Tatissa Foundation Okaloosa Suicide Prevention and Support Dinner Beneﬁtphotos by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.
Every 11 minutes there is a death by suicide somewhere in the United States. The CDC reports that in 2020 12.2 million adults seriously thought about suicide with 1.2 million making an attempt. Locally there are groups addressing this issue and on April 13 The Edge Seafood Restaurant hosted a fundraiser organized by the Tatissa Zunguze Foundation. “We are starting a new program in Okaloosa County and our purpose tonight is to raise awareness of suicide prevention,” said Louis Zunguze, President, Tatissa Zunguze Foundation. “We want to demystify the subject of suicide so that it is treated just like any other health issue in our community.” Strategically, the foundation offers speaking engagements and raises awareness through advocacy, partnerships, and education. Louis continued, “funds will be used to train people to look for signs [of suicidal thoughts] in people, in case their loved ones or anyone they come into contact with shows these signs, so that they may help that person.”
In honor of Tatissa Zunguze, the foundation envisions a world in which every young man and woman is equipped with the tools necessary to understand, express, and seek support for themselves and others. A world free from the social stigmas surrounding mental health, where suicide attempts are detected and addressed at an early onset.
A Fundraising Event for Victory Village
Over 100 people gathered on April 13 for American Spirit: A Fundraising Event for Victory Village. At the heart of the evening were the stories of bravery shared by local military heroes.
The camaraderie was evident as military members and families united with local businesses and leaders to support Victory Village. The event was hosted by Randy Wise, Sharilyn Darnell, Ashley Siner, Ray McGovern, and Spike Lord. Attendees were welcomed with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Following opening comments, introduction, and invocation, the National Anthem was sung by Ernest Tucker. DeNiro Fisher of Maker’s Mark hosted a bourbon tasting. Chef Carrie Knife of Knife’s Edge Catering provided an amazing three course meal.
Nate Nelson shared a powerful message of American Spirit. Nate knows rsthand the impact of injuries sustained while on deployment as an airman with the Air Force. He shared his testimony of not only surviving tremendous injuries but now thriving. His wife Jennifer and their daughter are vital parts of a continuing story of resilience and faith. Tony Hughes hosted a live auction of exclusive adventures, excursions, and select distilled beverages. The event supported Victory Village, a 501c3 nonpro t veteran senior living community. To learn more visit https://www.victoryvillage.us/.
Pets & Their People— Liberty Cart Company — Eevee Sunshine with Brian Elza — Emerald Lady Jewelry — Bella Bina — Smileology — Sandy with Dr. Oliver Broutin — Holloway Yacht Charters — Edgar — Auston’s on 98 — Lulu, Fenway, Goose & Cooper — MK Coastal Group — Mr. Blue — Farrow Contracting — Shepherds Hunter & Zeus, Floofs Teddy, Chewie & Georgie — Insurance Zone — Izzi, Buckeye and Birdie Mae — Realty ONE Emerald Coast — Koda with Jacqui Luberto
Aletha’s Legacy ~ Sunset at the Beach
Spectacular backdrops can be found all along the Emerald Coast; however, some are more well known than others. Known as the Destin Jewel, Hugh and Kalah Hathcock’s 9,000 sq. ft. beach home was host to the 4th Annual Aletha’s Legacy ~ Sunset at the Beach fundraiser on April 14. Featuring raf es and a plethora of silent auction items, board members and guests had high expectations for the evening.
“We’re here tonight to raise $200,000 for a school expansion in Liberia,” said Kalah Hathcock, Board Member and Director of Marketing and Events. “At the start of last year the school had 120 kids and now there are over 500 students, and we need a place for them to learn and grow.” Believing that every child has the right to education, Aletha’s Legacy not only provides academic instruction, but also provides vocational and survival skills for when the children leave the orphanage. “Our secondary goal tonight is to get 10 children from the orphanage sponsored.” Kalah continued, “Sponsors cover food and medical costs and with more children coming in we are looking for more sponsors.”
Founded by Liberian native Zhalman Harris, Aletha’s Legacy works to give underprivileged children in Liberia and Africa hope, and a chance for a better education.photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr. Terri & Peter Bos Kalah & Hugh Hathcock Velia Lala & Anne Hinze
VIP Destin at 4th Annual Aletha’s Legacy ~ Sunset at the Beach
Pedro’s Tacos & Tequila Bar
Pedro’s Taco & Tequila Bar in Destin held a ribbon cutting and grand reopening on April 21. “Back in January I became the General Manager for the Destin location and since then we have made a lot of changes,” said Judy Capellan, “So today we are celebrating with a ribbon cutting and grand reopening.” As part of the full-day celebration, Pedro’s and the Destin Chamber held a ribbon cutting at 11 am and the restaurant followed up with a esta at 4 pm which included an evening lled with music, tequila tasting, and a craw sh boil.
Pedro’s Tacos & Tequila Bar has locations across the northern Gulf Coast. Inspired by the original chefs of Mexico, Pedro’s Tacos & Tequila Bar serves up modern Mexican dishes while providing outstanding personalized service where everyone remembers your name.David Butler & Tim Kersanac Bryana Bahmer & Geraldine Martinez
Dr. Olivier Broutin developed a vision for his path in life – to impact the world by creating more smiles. The Smileology brand stems from this first realization. Dr. Broutin built his practice by working towards a new model for dentistry, one which would prioritize patient benefits and support the growth, education and enthusiasm of his practice.
Through his extensive education and advanced training, Dr. Broutin has become an expert in his field, routinely training with other leaders in Dentistry as a resource, including our partners Dr. Alexandra Ortega and Dr. Fady Shaaban. He also works as a speaker and teacher in addition to working with patients on a daily basis. His knowledge, methods and skills have brought world class dentistry to the communities of the Emerald Coast of Florida.
Joining forces with the best and brightest practitioners, the Smileology team has grown to revolutionize dentistry. Studying the smile in all its forms – whether rebuilding with dentures, implants and relief of pain, or brightening and refining through whitening, veneers, and other cosmetic procedures – has made Smileology the leader in cosmetic and restorative dentistry.
Dr. Olivier Broutin understands that a genuine smile comes from a place of confidence, self esteem and high quality of life.
I’ll be the rst to admit, I’m a little pet crazy. My dog, Johnny, has his own seat on the couch, and sometimes I make spaghetti just because he loves it (my kids hate it), and maybe sometimes, okay all the time, I tell him how much I love him and when I’ll be back before I leave the house, I don’t want him to worry after all. And if Instagram is any indication, I’m not alone in this obsession... I mean, we love of our pets. They are our family, and our home is their home, our space is their space, and we’re making accommodations in our homes to give our four-legged friends all the creature comforts they desire.
Splish Splash One of the more ingenious ideas I’ve heard for perfecting your pet home is a dog wash station. No more bending over and hurting your back giving them a bath or chasing them around outside with a water hose. These stations can easily be built into your laundry room or utility room, complete with a choice of heights, a faucet, a ramp or steps for your pup to easily get in and out, and an artistic license to make the area as fun or functional as you’d like. If building your own isn’t an option, there are dog wash stations available from places like Wayfair at various price points. While these are less custom, they’re still handy to have. No matter which of these options you choose, make sure the area surrounding your dog wash station is as waterproof as possible, as that after-bath shake is inevitable.story by Anna McGauley Stockton Johnny
Great Crates Crating or kenneling your dog is a great way to train and create a safe environment for them, especially when they’re puppies. The downside of this practice is that there’s now a crate somewhere in your house and they can be a bit unsightly. Luckily, there are crating options that are part of your furniture or are completely hidden from view and dog owners are rejoicing. Dog crate tables, television stands, and more are all great options to keep your pup contained without interrupting the ﬂow of your furniture. Some dog owners are choosing to build kennels into their utility or laundry rooms, this is great for nervous or high-strung pups as it allows them to have a quiet sanctuary, away from visitors and those pesky doorbells.
Pet Function Junction
Simply setting up a pet station in your house will help you streamline and make your home more pet friendly. Having an area with your pet’s food safely stored away with easy access for the caregiver, and no access for the overly enthusiastic food lover, will not only help keep things tidy, but it will also avoid any potentially harmful overeating by your pet. Having a space for toys in your pet stations will keep toys away when not in use and keep you from possibly going into cardiac arrest when you step on something wet, squishy, and very squeaky in the middle of the night. Hooks for leashes and other dog accessories can also be put in this area using fun, pet themed hooks will add some pet pizazz to the area. We haven’t forgotten the cat owners here; the same concept can be applied to their pet station. All their pet needs can be stored in one place, with the addition of the litterbox, whether it’s of the traditional sort or one of the fancy and super clean high-tech litter box machines.
Slumber in Style Pet beds have come a long way and are more stylish than ever. Beds are available in styles to match the décor of your home and give your pet a perfect place to sleep. Dog beds come in big balls of poof for those who like a warm, calm nest, special cushioning for those dogs who need support, chew proof dog beds, and even a chaise lounge dog bed for the more sophisticated pups. And from mid-century to glam to farmhouse, dog beds come in all styles and colors to suit your décor.
Unlike dogs, cats often prefer a more secure bed to ﬁt their elusive, ‘too cool for you’ personalities. A variety of enclosed pet beds are available in many di erent styles to match your style and a cat’s desire for a comfortable, secure bed.
MAY 4 | 7 PM
Yacht Rock Revue: Reverse Sunset Tour
MAY 18 | 7 PM Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
JUNE 22 | 7 PM
Sinfonia Gulf Coast feat. Morgan James
MAY 25 | 7 PM
mattie kelly arts foundation
THURSDAY NIGHTS | MAY 4 - JUNE 22
Annual Thursday evening concert live music series featuring family-friendly premier musicians and bands performing everything from classic rock, reggae and disco to modern pop.
| Lucky Chops
| Yacht Rock Revue: Reverse Sunset Tour
| Sinfonia Gulf Coast feat. Morgan James
| Gotta Groove Band
| Adam Ezra Group
| Journeyman: A Tribute to Eric Clapton
| Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Purchase Tickets at MKAF.org/Events
BECOME A MEMBER
Become a Member JOIN NOW!
mattie kelly arts foundation
NOV 9 11th Annual Wine Walkabout at Ruth's Chris
OCT 28 - 29 Annual arts festival featuring ﬁne artists exhibiting their original art, live music, food trucks, crafted cocktails.
Know that your membership fees impact students, veterans and adults of all abilities throughout Northwest Florida.mattie kelly arts foundation Steak House at Silver Shells Resort in Destin.
MKAF MEMBERS CONCERTS ARE FREE!
Grand Boulevard Offers the Area’s Top Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment and Gives Back to the Community
Grand Boulevard at Sandestin has been consistently offering the finest in shopping, dining and entertainment along the Emerald Coast for 16 years. With a healthy mix of both first-to-market national brands and locally-owned retail stores, there is something for everyone at this popular Town Center. Shopping highlights include lululemon, Tommy Bahama, Billabong, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Blue Mercury, johnnie-O and Anthropologie. Sunset Shoes & Lifestyle, Peter Millar, and Altar’d State are shopping favorites, as are local favorites, The Zoo Gallery, Ophelia Swimwear, and The Jewel.
Most recently, locally-owned Rose & Co and Pure Collective Salon opened. On-trend stores Kendra Scott and Krewe also opened in 2022. Innovative clothing retailers Faherty and Stallworth opened beautiful new stores this summer to great acclaim.
On the dining side, local favorite, Vint’ij Food + Wine, is celebrating the restaurant’s 25-year anniversary and they continue to offer a tantalizingly eclectic menu, with fresh daily lunch and dinner specials. Don’t miss their oyster BLT for a truly sublime sandwich. This restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special occasion or a lunch date. Another great celebratory dining option - and for the most fun and entertaining brunch in town - you can’t beat Emeril’s Coastal. Their exhibition kitchen is a whirlwind of culinary activity, with the fresh catch of the day front and center on ice. It’s not unusual to see the man himself in the kitchen (he is a local, too!).
Rounding out the dining options – there truly is something for every palette. Cantina Laredo serves up modern gourmet Mexican in a casual setting and the fountain view from the patio is a visual stunner. Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar has among the best patio dining in the Town Center, overlooking the park and fountain. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, everkrisp, Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria, Black Bear Bread, The Wine Bar, The Craft Bar, Another Broken Egg, Jimmy John’s, and Kilwins make Grand Boulevard the premier dining destination at the beach!
Grand Boulevard is known for its award-winning marquee events, including South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, 30A Songwriters Festival, ArtQuest Fine Art & Music Festival, and more! The Town Center is also the home of Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC), an innovative professional theatre company. Celebrating 10 years, the ECTC theatre is located at Grand Boulevard, nd oor, and provides year-round professional theatre performances, acting and dance classes for all ages of children and adults.
Throughout Summer 2023, ECTC will perform “Broadway on the Boulevard” every Thursday night in Grand Park, 8-8:45 p.m. This exciting, energetic performance of musical montages has audiences singing and dancing to recent and long-running Broadway musicals. Concessions and libations are available prior to the show.
For friends and families looking for fun outdoor games to play, and a great scene to take in, lawn games take place every day in Grand Park from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Corn hole, giant board games and more take place every day at Grand Boulevard. Live entertainment and a beach bar are offered by Tommy Bahama make for a relaxing and convivial experience for all to enjoy.
The AMC 10 Classic Boulevard 10 Cinema shows the latest movie releases and is the perfect respite for too much fun in the sun or a rainy day!
Besides being an outstanding destination for shopping, dining and entertainment, Grand Boulevard is committed to being a good community steward. All Town Center events have a charitable component, supporting dozens of charities in our area. We will toast to that!
Arnie Hart Juried Student Show & Art Faculty Exhibition
Area residents, art a cionados and former students lined up early on April 7 for the annual Arnie Hart Juried Student Show & Art Faculty Exhibition in Niceville. Held at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries, attendees enjoyed refreshments, desserts and Brozinni Pizzeria pizza.
“Arnie Hart taught here from 1966 to 1999 and his widow, Ms Jean Hart, helps keep his memory alive,” said J. Wren Supak, Director, Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries. Known as being warm and friendly, Arnie Hart’s style of cracked pottery ceramics in uenced many Northwest Florida State College art students.
Supported by donations from Ms Jean Hart, the event had many layers and featured artwork from students in 2-D and 3-D genres. “Every year we have a week of workshops where students learn skills ranging from framing to how to present their works professionally. Rounding out the week we have a guest professor from outside the college jury the student show,” said J. Wren Supak. This year’s guest judge was Dr. Aja Roache, Gallery Director of Foster Tanner Galleries, Florida A&M University. Best of Show was awarded to Neely Brewer for the mixed media art: “The Musician & Dancer.” And wrapping up the evening was a dance performance by Professor Vanessa Kanamoto and created speci cally for the show.
Busine Before Hours
Celebrating friendship, business, and the Destin community, the Destin Chamber of Commerce met on April 14 for their monthly Business Before Hours (BAH). The event was hosted by Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer.
Sponsored by Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican, the gathering featured all the ingredients for a ne business get together: networking, food, and good speakers. Always adding his personal touch, Chairman Jason Belcher welcomed everyone and while introducing elected of cials he made sure to point out that Bobby Wagner, Destin’s youngest mayor, was in attendance.
The non-pro t spotlight was Rocky Bayou Christian School and Holly Riches, Director of Admissions told the group that Rocky worked to, “help parents raise Christian grownups to in uence the community and the world.”
The guest speaker was Marcus Chambers, Superintendent, Okaloosa County School District. He talked a lot about how the ½ cent sales tax has been bene ting the school district and that, “with the growing population, the district has been planning improvements and/ or additions in Crestview, Niceville and at the Destin Elementary School.”photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr. Joshua Cowsert & Larry Cowsert Tami Groth & Haven Hamrick James Wood & Teresa Hebért Holly Riches & Toby Williams
Interview with Debbie Johnson, President and Founder K9s United
photos provided by K9s United
What is K9s United?
K9s United is a 501(c)(3) nonpro t committed to supporting K-9 law enforcement of cers who detect, protect, and serve our communities by giving them the necessary equipment, amenities and quality of life during their service, as well as memorializing those who give the ultimate sacri ce.
How did this organization come about? / What is your role and how did you get involved with K9s United?
When news broke that a eeing suspect murdered K-9 Baron on October 7, 2014, I had never experienced something that laid so heavy on my heart. I attended K-9 Baron’s funeral, made a donation, but still I felt moved to do more. To educate myself, I met with my local K-9 Unit and attended their Civilian Law Enforcement Academy. It was during my ride along class with a K-9 handler that I learned that the K-9 unit is one of the most expensive units within an agency and their needs aren’t always met due to budgetary constraints. So, in June 2015, I founded K9s United with the mission to help K-9 units nationwide receive the tools and resources they need to bring their furry and human of cers home safe.
What impact does K9s United have on the community?
K9s United positively impacts the local community by providing free life-saving trainings, seminars, and equipment to law enforcement and EMS agencies, allowing the units to safely protect the community and care for K-9 of cers.
Our EMS trainings coach EMS professionals and K-9 handlers on all K-9 protocols for when unexpected injuries occur. This training includes combat injuries, treatment protocols, hemorrhage control, airway management, prevention and treatment of shock, wound management, movement techniques, hypo/hyperthermia, burns, poisoning, snake bites and bloat, among other life-saving techniques K-9s may require in a moment’s notice.
Our training seminars are for K-9 handlers and teach human detection such as tracking, trailing, area and building searches; criminal apprehension techniques and scenario-based training; odor and narcotics/explosive detection; along with basic and advanced obedience training. We also extend an invite on the nal day of the seminars to local EMS professionals to provide a rst-aid crash course.
What are some future goals?
Our main goal is always to assist and provide for K-9s who protect and serve our communities. We’ve been able to do this thanks to our monthly K9 Corps supporters, online store sales, annual events, and generous donors; but the need is tremendous and to help more K-9 of cers we must raise additional funds. This year, we have a goal to pre-sell 3,000 K9s United Florida specialty license plates which will provide additional annual funds for our mission and honor our voiceless K-9 of cers. We are half-way to our goal with nearly 1,600 purchased. If readers are interested in purchasing a license plate, please visit K9sUnited.org.
In 2019 we helped to pass Senate Bill 96, which creates harsher penalties for those who harm a working K-9. The legislation makes killing a K-9 of cer a second-degree felony, triples the maximum jail sentence to 15 years and raises the ne to $15,000. We also recently passed legislation that allows for injured working dogs to be transported by emergency vehicles in the state of Florida. Now, we’re working to pass this bill federally to help dogs nationwide.
What challenges does your organization face?
Our biggest challenge is fundraising. We receive lists of needs from K-9 units nationwide and we must ask them to prioritize their needs because the items are costly, and funds are limited. We also face the challenge of nding new donors. We are well known by our law enforcement family, but we want civilians to understand the dire need to support our K-9 of cers.
What events does your organization host? Are any open to the public?
We host a fully remote Fallen K-9 Virtual Run each year on Sept. 1 to honor all fallen K-9s and we will host a second 9K for K9s in October in Central Florida. K9s United also hosts an annual K-9 Competition that brings Florida’s K-9 of cers together to compete and show off their skills, allowing bystanders to observe and better understand what these dogs do. For current event information please visit, www.k9sunited.org/events.
What would you like our readers to know about K9s United?
I simply want readers to know about K9s United and what we are doing to help K-9s and their handlers.
By supporting K9s United with a donation or by purchasing our specialty license plate, you are helping these incredible working dogs by allowing us to either provide the necessary training they seek or speci c equipment to keep them safe, such as bullet proof vests, heat alarms and door poppers.
How can someone get involved and/or support your nonprofit?
K9 Corps is one fantastic way to support with a monthly donation. By joining K9 Corps you will also join an inspiring group of supporters who have a passion for supporting K9 heroes and as a member of K9 Corps, you become a close part of our family and will have a direct impact on ensuring the success of the K9s United vision.
Florida drivers also have one of the most unique ways to get involved via our specialty license plate. For each plate sold, $25 will be donated to K9s United to support our mission to educate, train and provide vital equipment and services to K9s who protect and serve their communities.
We also offer an online shop for those interested in purchasing a t-shirt, travel thermos, dog bandana or coffee mug, in support of K9s United. Every dollar donated to K9s United supports the nonpro t’s mission to educate, train and provide vital equipment and services to K-9 teams. For more information please visit, k9sunited.org.
MKAF Concerts in the Village
Post Modern Jukebox
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation kicked off their Concerts in the Village event on April 20 with a group known around the world – Post Modern Jukebox. This was the rst of 10 concerts in the 28th season of this family-friendly live music series in Destin.
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation presents these annual concerts each spring and summer featuring a diverse lineup of artists great for all ages. Each year, national, regional and local musicians perform on the MKAF Dugas Stage in Destin, located behind Destin High School. This year’s season ends June 22 and will see musicians and bands performing everything from classic rock, reggae, and disco to modern pop.
The season opener was one no one wanted to miss. The show Post Modern Jukebox puts on is part celebration of vintage music and culture, and part “Saturday Night Live” for singers. It was an unforgettable trip back in time for guests.
The Florida Travel Guide named The Concerts in the Village as one of the “Top Ten Things to Do” in Northwest Florida. During these shows, guests are encouraged to bring picnic dinners and beverages to enjoy along with the entertainment. Gates open an hour before the show. This allows those who purchased VIP tables to decorate their tablescape, and others to set up their chairs, lay out their blankets, and mingle with other guests. For those who don’t bring their own food, freshly-prepared dinners are available from on-site food trucks.
Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF), is a non-pro t arts organization comprised of members, volunteers, and community partners building the foundation of arts and culture in the community.
Driving Opportunity Key Presentation at Step One Automotive Group
Every year, in partnership with United Way, Step One Automotive Group gives away a vehicle to a family in need; and on April 21 this year’s vehicle was given away to a couple from Pensacola. “This is our second year of partnering with United Way in each of our 6 markets,” said Darra Flanagan, Corporate Event Coordinator, Step One Automotive Group. “United Way reaches out to their partner organizations to nominate someone, and we pull the name. We give a car to someone who is in need; someone who is struggling at the time and needs better access to mobility.”
2023’s winners, John and Courtney Gazoo,
medically uninsured of Escambia County and has provided over $15 million in healthcare services and 18,000 patient/provider visits. With a relentless dedication to serving and a mission to leave a lasting legacy in the community, Step One Automotive Group partners with organizations across the southeastern United States to raise money for organizations, helping everyone from single moms to military heroes. To sum up Step One’s outreach and the Driving Opportunity Key Presentation, “It’s just the essence of who Step One Automotive Group is,” said Darra (article by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.).
will further expand the partnership between SCHS and NWFSC by providing a permanent home for SCHS at the South Walton Campus of NWFSC as well as developing a high school dual enrollment center for all students in Walton County. In addition, the new facility will include “The Accelerator” which will offer training, mentoring, and collaboration to new area businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Walton County and the surrounding areas are currently experiencing rapid growth,” said Patrick McCarthy, Seaside School Foundation President. “We believe investing in the people of our community is needed and necessary now more than ever. By expanding this partnership between two historically successful institutions, we will make Walton County an even better place to live and thrive.”
were nominated by United Way of West Florida’s partner organization: Health & Hope Clinic in Pensacola. Founded in 2003 by the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association, the clinic works to meet the needs of the uninsured and
The Seaside School, Inc. Launches Multi-Million Dollar Seacoast Collegiate High School Expansion Project with Northwest Florida
The Seaside School, Inc., Florida’s oldest continuously operated public charter school and #1 combination public charter school in the state of Florida, announced today the launch of the Seacoast Collegiate High School (SCHS) Expansion Project in partnership with Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC). This multi-million-dollar expansion project
Currently, ninth and tenth grades at SCHS operate in ﬁve classrooms that are leased from NWFSC at the South Walton Campus. Students in eleventh and twelfth grades attend classes on the Niceville Campus of NWFSC. With this expansion project, The Seaside School, Inc. will be able to consolidate all high school students at the NWFSC South Walton Campus as well as expand the collegiate programs to more students in Walton County by adding additional instructional space for students in grades nine through twelve and the community.
For more information on the Seacoast Collegiate High School Expansion Project including naming and gift opportunities, campus renderings, and upcoming informational sessions, visit SeasideSchools. net. The Seaside School, Inc. hopes to break ground on the new facilities this year with doors opening to students in 2025.
I AM DESTIN Dr. Jocelyn Richardson
What brought you to Destin?
I was looking for a change of pace in my career. A friend suggested looking at Destin. I visited Barry Vet Hospital and fell in love with the staff and the culture of the clinic.
What is your profession?
I am the Lead Veterinarian at Barry Veterinary Hospital. I chose this career due to my passion for the human-animal bond and my love of science and health.
Tell us some of your favorite things about Destin.
I love the number of local activities and events. There is always something to do, from relaxing on the beach to running a 5k, or going to the farmers’s market. I really enjoy the areas of nature as well. Three words that best describe you.
Aunt, Compassionate, Leader. Finish this statement. I AM Destin because…
I care for the local community. I want to ensure pet and pet owners have a long healthy relationship. I am Destin because I believe in preserving the beauty of the Emerald Coast.photo by Verla Price