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BAY LIFE Volume 6 Number 2 IT’S A MIRACLE

KICK IT

Bay United Soccer Club scores big

LUSH LAWNS

Gardening tips to make your neighbors green with envy

WEDDINGS 2011 Three couples share their special day

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FALL 2011

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FALL 2011

A product of Rowland Publishing, Inc.

It’s a Miracle A dearly missed icon is back at the beach


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DINING AROUND THE GLOBE Feeling hungry for something different? We highlight some of the best international restaurants in bay county.

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WEEKEND GETAWAYS

PHOTOs by HAnOWell PHOTOGRAPHy

A week-long vacation might be ideal, but sometimes reality requires us to take our leisure in smaller bites. Three nearby locations offer a chance to enjoy a short stay in Tallahassee, Washington county and Thomasville, Ga.

32 WEDDINGS

The glamour of the 1940s, the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico and the lush landscape of a local community inspire these wedding themes. Three brides share their secrets for beautiful, meaningful nuptials.

ON THE COVER

staff photographer scott Holstein captures A. crawford Mosley High school senior Rachel sanborn as she hops on the iconic carousel at Miracle strip at Pier Park. Dress by DejaVu $69.99, earrings $29, necklace $29.99, ring $29.99 and bracelet $9.99 all at DejaVu in Pier Park.

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In Every Issue 9 From the Publisher 11 From the editor 74 The last Word

22 Out of a forgotten storage shed and back into the sunlight, the amusement rides from the old Miracle strip Amusement Park come to life again.

Events

13 ONE TO WATCH

24 CALENDAR

14 Q&A

northwest Florida beaches international Airport executive Director John Wheat tells of his plans for the airport’s future.

16 GENERATION NEXT

Gulf coast state college Freshman George bass overcomes autism and pursues a degree in meteorology.

Departments 19 ON THE MOVE

bay United soccer club boasts 22 teams of soccer stars that are a force to be reckoned with.

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Dining

22 EDITOR’S CHOICE

Quick Reads sunshine shuttle and limousine owner John Finch brings upscale transportation to Panama city beach.

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70 FIRST COURSE

Fall means football. And we are loyal to our teams, even down to what we eat at our eagerly anticipated tailgate parties.

72 DINING GUIDE

For celebration meals or dining on the go, look here for inspiration.

Our fall calendar is jam packed with fun festivals, charity events and community happenings.

Special Sections

29 SOCIAL STUDIES

50 WILDLIFE PHOTO ESSAY

check out photos from Mystique, the American cancer society cattle barons’ ball and the battle of the Pink bras.

One photographer shares his quest for the perfect wildlife shot.

Home & Garden

56 MEDICAL PROFILES

Meet some of the area’s leading health care professionals.

66 HABITAT

no need to be jealous of your neighbor’s beautiful lawns. We show you how to pick the perfect grass, plants and flowers that will make you King of the Grass.

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The do ctors are in, and Bay Lif the e Magaz ine offers y are answeri leading ng quest you a ch health ion care pro ance to out. Th get to kn s. In this specia viders ese me dedicated dical pro ow som l sectio and ho n, e of the to keep fes w they ing you area’s can help sionals discu he ss their with yo specializ althy inside an ur all-im d ed skills portant , backgro health care ch unds oices. fall

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From the Publisher

(Not Quite) Up in the Air the plane. More information than I needed to see and certainly something the 169 onboard should not know about. I asked if the plane would go to maintenance that night … . “No,” they responded, “it might be a week before it does.” They assured me the part was not critical to flight operations. Hmmm, I thought. Then why did we get called back to the gate for a three-hour ordeal? Since I am composing this, you know it all transpired fine. Last, and most notable, was my Saturday return. The airport was filled with traveling soldiers — an inordinate amount of them. Guess that is a good travel day for military between the business week and Sunday leisure return day. I engaged a dozen in conversation and learned all were deploying over the pond for combat duty. They, too, were nervous and anxious — but in a much different manner. Their responses were short and tight-lipped, yet polite. I asked them about the kind of reaction they get from the American public when they’re passing through airports. Overall the responses were quite similar. They all felt like invisible persons. “People look through me,” one responded. “People look away or down (instead of) making eye contact,” said another. “There is often an awkward silence when in close contact on the tram” and “Some people glare with a sense of disdain.” They unanimously said kids were the ones who engaged them, saluted them and looked up to them. I was so embarrassed and ashamed to hear the comments of these soldiers, leaving for a war zone and putting their life on the line to protect people who are unable to just say a few words of support and appreciation. I wished each of them a safe journey and return and sincerely thanked them for what they are doing to protect the way of life many of us take for granted.

Brian Rowland, Publisher

PHOTO by scott holstein

Traveling a couple times this year, I found myself with time to kill at what I call one of the major crossroads of the planet Earth, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — a place where people flying most anywhere must pass through in order to get where they’re going. It is a place of constant movement for about 20 hours a day and hosts the souls of about 240,000 people each day, or 87.6 million people a year, with an average of 2,700 flights arriving or departing daily. On this particular departure and return, I had a four-hour wait and a two-and-a-half-hour wait respectively and decided to take the opportunity to be clearly aware and observe all that transpired around me, and to engage as many people as possible. On the departure leg, the airport on a Monday morning was teeming with adolescent groups of teens moving quickly, yet unsure of where to go. They clustered in packs and engaged in nonstop nervous, excited chatter about their first journey overseas — the beginning of their understanding that there is a life going on beyond the halls of their high school and the walls of their home. This passage to their first worldly experience will change most of their lives forever by expanding their consciousness and fostering a maturing process only travel can bring. These very lucky kids should forever thank and appreciate their parents’ wisdom, courage and financial sacrifice to encourage their little birdies to test their wings and fly. Next was the old “stuck on the plane” experience and the myriad feelings it gave rise to — namely frustration, anxiety and helplessness. We made it to the runway for takeoff only to be called back to the gate for an “issue” — a valve that wouldn’t close. For two hours, 170 of us sat fidgeting in the plane, not getting much information or even water. I was allowed to get off the plane and stand in the air bridge when my legs cramped up. Four ace mechanics worked diligently in 100-degree heat outside, returning often to look at the 700-page manual they had placed on the floor near where I stood. Back and forth they went, finally returning with a carburetor-like part in hand — the piece with the stuck valve. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, they then proceeded to force the valve open and return it to

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Vol. 6, No. 2

PUBLISHER

Brian E. Rowland

EDITOR

Wendy O. Dixon

LEAD DESIGNER

Marc L. Thomas

STAFF WRITERS

Jason Dehart

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Gwen R. Break, Lisa Carey, Wendy O. Dixon, Rosanne Dunkelberger, Angela Howard, Lis King, Valerie Lovett, Lilly Rockwell

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Scott Holstein

TRAFFIC COORDINATOR

Marjorie Stone

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES ONLINE

PRESIDENT CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Chris St. John, Mary Beth Lovingood baylifemagazine.com facebook.com/baylife twitter.com/baylifemag

Brian E. Rowland Lawrence Davidson

PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Melinda Lanigan

DIRECTOR OF EDITORIAL SERVICES

Linda Kleindienst

MANAGER OF FINANCE HR/ADMINISTRATION MANAGER OF INTEGRATED SALES ADMINISTRATOR OF SALES AND EVENTS CLIENT SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE ASSISTANT CREATIVE DIRECTOR TRAFFIC COORDINATORS GRAPHIC DESIGNERS MAGAZINE AD BUILDER NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR WEB SITE RECEPTIONIST

Angela Cundiff Dan Parisi McKenzie Burleigh Caroline Conway Saige Roberts Lisa Sostre, Marjorie Stone Jennifer Ekrut, Laura Patrick, Marc L. Thomas, Daniel Vitter Patrick Patterson Daniel Vitter rowlandpublishing.com Amy Lewis

Bay Life Magazine is published quarterly by Rowland Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 1932, Tallahassee, FL, 32302. (850) 878-0554. Bay Life Magazine and Rowland Publishing, Inc. are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged but will not be returned. Bay Life Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright September 2011 Bay Life Magazine Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Member, Bay County Chamber of Commerce and Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce.

One-Year Subscription $24 (Four Issues)

(850) 878-0554 Bay Life Magazine can be purchased at Books-A-Million in Panama City or through our website at baylifemagazine.com.

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Proud member Florida Magazine Association


From the Editor

Letters to the Editor PEOPLE WITH AUTISM ARE NOT DOOMED

I Hope You’re Hungry

photo by Scott Holstein

There are a few scenes in the recentlyreleased movie, “The Help,” where food takes center stage. Specifically, good ole Southern food. The movie, which I had a blast seeing with some of my best Southern girlfriends, is about the relationships between black maids and the white families they work for in Mississippi during the 1960s. But you can’t help notice the food. You’re tempted by the crispy fried chicken, silky collard greens, plump sliced tomatoes and mile-high meringue, and some sweet iced-tea to wash it all down. Chocolate pie? Not so much, and you know why if you’ve seen the movie. This is the kind of food I grew up Wendy O. Dixon, Editor on — cornbread, cooked with plenty wdixon@rowlandpublishing.com of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet; peas, which the women and grandkids in my family shelled ourselves on the front porch, were also cooked in oil; and fried chicken cooked in Crisco. The skillet was never washed. That was a no-no when it came to having a well-seasoned skillet. Rather than wash it, you were to wipe it with a paper towel and then rub more Crisco on it, my grandmother instructed. The cast iron skillet was the most important piece of cookware in the kitchen. My favorite meal is still fried chicken with all the fixings. It’s comfort food at its best. But I’ve expanded my culinary horizons since childhood. Recently, we visited several local restaurants that serve cuisine from other parts of the world — Thailand, England, Greece, Japan and other lands. Most of them stick to their nation’s authentic recipes or alter them ever so slightly to appeal to American taste buds. We bring you the roundup of the eight restaurants in this issue. Try them out for yourself, and let us know what you think.

Many thanks to those of you who “like” us on Facebook (facebook. com/baylife). If you haven’t clicked the “Like” on our page yet, please join our growing group. We always appreciate your comments, tips and story ideas. And who knows? You may see your photo in some of our photo albums from various charity and community events. If you have suggestions for stories, email me at wdixon@rowlandpublishing.com.

I love your magazine and I would love to see an issue on autism. My son was diagnosed at two years of age. He is now 17 years old and is in the MAPPS/advanced program at Mosley High School and will graduate with 4.0 grade point average. He currently has a job and will be attending Gulf Coast State College in the fall. He wants to eventually go on to obtain his Ph.D. in meteorology and work for the National Hurricane Center. You never see articles on good outcomes with autism and I would love to share my son’s story. We were originally told he would never talk or attend public schools and would need to be placed in an institution as a teenager. Not in his case. He is a blessing! Thanks, Denise Bass Editor’s note: We read Denise’s letter and are thrilled her son is doing so well. We contacted her and feature her son, George Bass, in this issue.

MORE DIVERSITY, PLEASE I just viewed your Top Singles in Bay County (Spring 2011). I surely hope you guys start adding more people of color to your magazine. I have also noticed that you fail to add African-American charity events to your event photos. And you think out of the entire Bay County, Florida, area we only have one top single black person. WOW! I hope things improve!

Rita Miller Editor’s note: Our Top Singles are nominated by readers. From the nominations, we choose a list of winners that represents Bay County in a diverse way. If you know someone who you think is deserving of being a Top Single, nominate him or her. We also strive to cover as many charity events as we can, and you can help spread the word about charity and community events by contacting us. If you have an event you’d like to see covered in the magazine, email me at wdixon@rowlandpublishing.com.

Do you have something to say? If you have a comment about or correction to Bay Life Magazine, send a message to editorial@rowlandpublishing.com. Bay Life

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QUICK READS people | items | places

Photo by scott holstein

ONE TO WATCH

» JOHN FINCH

Starting with only two vans in 2002, John Finch has built Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine into a fleet of buses, vans, limousines and sedans. Southwest Airlines at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and Vision Airlines at Northwest Florida Regional Airport have tapped Sunshine to provide the ground transportation for their flight personnel. Finch is also partnering with the travel giant Bookit.com in Panama City Beach as a component in the online agency’s local travel packages. Now he wants to add the 30-A Trolley

Service to his lineup of transportation options. Although initially delayed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Finch successfully won approval of the trolley deal from local authorities in June 2011. He is working with area businesses and the Walton County Tourist Development Council to establish what he believes will be a transportation system to make travel on CR 30A safer and easier for residents and tourists alike. His plans are to be fully operational in 2012. “My company is green friendly,” says Finch. “One trolley takes as many as 30 cars off the

road. That not only keeps cars from burning fuel, but it also keep drivers from behind the wheel who may be impaired.” Originally from Memphis, Tenn., the 40-something entrepreneur refuses to say exactly how old he is but his first success was 33 Degrees, a highly sought-after line of New York street wear. After selling the company in the 1990s, he moved to south Walton County, where he had vacationed frequently. Reservations, prices, photos and route maps are available at sunshineshuttle.com. — Gwen R. Break

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QUICK READS Q&A

AT YOUR SERVICE John Wheat, executive director at the airport, says improved air service will have a big impact on economic growth in Bay County

BL: How does Florida compare with Salt Lake City? JW: I’ve been a Salt Lake City native for 49 years. It’s a great place to raise a family. It has wonderful recreational opportunities, great mountains, the finest ski resorts in the world. It’s a conservative location, a clean city, pretty hip. I sweat a lot more in Florida. That was one of the biggest shocks I felt coming here, as well as the loss of seasons. But we love the Gulf. BL: How has the addition of Southwest affected the regional economy? JW: Anytime you bring in new city service and provide competitive airfares, you’re going to stimulate the local market and the market you’re flying to. Our traffic has almost tripled compared to previous years. Travelers are sensitive to airfares, and when you can introduce low airfares into markets they will travel more often because it is affordable. The effect of Southwest in this market is a shining example.

New airport director sees a bright future for Bay County By Wendy O. Dixon

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he skies above Northwest Florida have become markedly busier in the past year and a half, thanks to the buzz of activity at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), which opened in May 2010. Since its first day, passenger travel has nearly tripled, servicing around 860,000 customers traveling in and out of the area. John Wheat, 60, came on board as the new executive director of the airport on May 1, 2011, less than one month before the airport celebrated its first anniversary on May 23. He has worked in the aviation field for nearly 30 years, previously as the interim director at Tampa International Airport and deputy director at Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah. He 14

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replaces Randy Curtis, executive director for more than 15 years, who now works as director of special projects for the airport. As director of the first U.S. airport to be built in the past decade, Wheat says his focus will be on providing good customer service, competitive rates and expanded destinations. Located in West Bay near Panama City and Panama City Beach, the the airport services Delta and Southwest airlines. As jets come and go in the distance, easily viewed from his large office window overlooking the runway, Wheat speaks of getting to know and love Northwest Florida, facing the challenges of a new airport and planning for an influx of first-time tourists and business travelers to the area.

BL: What are your immediate and long-term plans for the airport? JW: In the coming year we’ll do a thorough passenger analysis and survey, which will give us a better understanding of such things as where local passengers are originating from, where visiting travelers are going, demographics on our passengers and the type of transportation used to access the airport. We will also begin conducting a master plan for the new airport within the next three months, which will develop demand forecasts for a 20-year period and provide various alternatives for airside and landside development for three pre-designated periods of five, 10 and 20 years. BL: Where do you see the airport in five years? JW: I hope we have significantly increased non-stop services to other communities. I see us having more than two carriers operating here. And I see us partnering with the region and all of the agencies so that we’re creating a synergy and making a big impact. n

Photo by scott holstein

Ready for Takeoff

BL: What about Delta? JW: Competition is a very good thing in the airline business. Since we opened the new airport, Delta’s traffic has also seen a significant increase as fares have been reduced. Most of the people who come to visit us drive. As we continue to enhance air service with competitive airfares, more and more visitors will choose to fly because of the convenience and cost.


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QUICK READS gen next

STORM TRACKER Weather enthusiast George Bass plans to become a meteorologist after graduating from Gulf Coast State College.

Forecasting the Future College freshman overcomes autism and sees a bright career ahead

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eorge Bass is a bright young man.  The 18-year-old graduated from Mosley High School this past spring with a 3.7 grade point average. He was a school mascot and a nominee for homecoming king.  He is a freshman at Gulf Coast State College and plans to study meteorology. So what makes George so special? Unlike his classmates, George Bass had to overcome the obstacle of autism. Denise Bass, George’s mother, can vividly remember when her family’s  life changed forever. Her energetic toddler was saying the basic words that children do and was almost toilet trained when everything stopped.  At 18 months, George began missing major milestones and was soon diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this form of autism affects about two out of every 10,000 children — and boys are three to 16

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four times more likely to have it. Although NINDS says Asperger’s is typically one of the higher functioning neurological disorders, the Basses were startled by the grim predictions of the doctors. “The psychiatrist and neurologist said he would not talk and would not be able to go to regular school,” said Denise Bass. She and her husband George were crushed by the news, but they were determined to help their son defy the odds. They fought with the school to get their son into regular classes and utilized the help of therapists and classroom aides. When many people hear the word  autism, they picture Dustin Hoffman in the movie “Rain Man,” and in some ways, the movie character Raymond Babbitt and the young George Bass are alike. “I am a science and history buff.  Anything historical, it’s extremely rare for me to forget,” George said. Yet in other ways, the two are miles

apart. While Raymond could not deviate from his daily routine, George gained vital social skills that helped him on an eighth grade class trip to Six Flags in Georgia and a trip to Costa Rica during spring break his senior year. “[It was] really cool learning different Spanish cultures,” said George, who took four years of Spanish in high school and aced the class each time. “As the parent, it warms your heart to know how well he does,” his mother said. “I have great ambition in life. I drove it into myself, and my mom has been a big help, of course,” said George. “You can be successful at anything.” George plans to be the next Jim Cantore, chasing storms as a meteorologist. He’s also written a book called “Weather At Its Worst: Cities Under Siege,” which he plans to publish very soon. So for this budding meteorologist, the sky really is the limit. n

Photo by scott holstein

By Angela Howard


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On the Move

Bay United Sharks (girls teams) and Storm (boys teams) are in the soccer spotlight after beating bigger, stronger teams.

United We Kick Bay United Soccer Club is a competitive force By Angela Howard

photo by scott holstein

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occer made its official debut in America in 1869 in a college game that pitted Princeton against Rutgers.  Since then, its popularity in the U. S. has often been overshadowed by football, baseball, basketball and hockey.  But it seems no one told that to the boys and girls who make up the Bay United Soccer Club (BUSC) in Northwest Florida.  With fewer than 300 players, the BUSC is considered a small organization, but its 22 teams are bulldozing their way through the competition, putting BUSC on the map. Girls represent state in regional tournament The girls of the Bay United Soccer Club are a force to be reckoned with.  While many ladies this age are worried only about

makeup and boys, these girls are out on the field practicing and perfecting their craft. Earlier this year,  that practice paid off when the ’96 Sharks went from “underdogs” to “superdogs,” beating out a host of bigger and arguably stronger teams to land a spot in the finals of the Florida Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) State Cup. “Amazingly enough, our girls stepped up to the challenge and embraced the opportunity and just would not give up,” said parent and current BUSC Vice President Jacob Lehtio. In the semi-finals, the team lost one of its key players and lead scorers to a knee injury, but even that did not stop them in their quest. “Many teams would have thrown in the towel against a juggernaut like CFK (Central Florida Kraze) Krush, but not our

girls.  The team rallied behind their fallen teammate and seemingly willed themselves to a win for her,” said Lehtio. The ’96 Sharks played hard in the finals, but the winning stopped there, as they were beat out by the Palm Beach Nomads. However, the Nomads were unable to go on to the regional tournament, so the FYSA asked the girls from the Bay County Club to represent the state of Florida as the State Champion at the Southern Regionals for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship Series. “Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes it helps to focus harder on what you have in hand,” Lehtio said. That regional tournament took place in June in Tennessee under the watchful eyes of some 300 college coaches. The ’96 Sharks  took to the pitch and  gave it BAY LIFE

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On the Move

Bay United ’99 Storm (boys) front row left to right: Tanner Reese, Dylan Gandy, Matthew Lewis and Mason Rodriguez. Back Row: Nick Ostrovsky, Ben Pehr, Carter Adair, Alex Lovchuck and Kai Nakaruma. Not pictured: Cooper Lovett, Trevor Roake, Gabe Nunez and Tristan Sinclair. ’96 Sharks (girls) front row left to right: Jaclynn Lehtio, Elizabeth Vickers, Maria Rinehart. Back row: Kenley Adams, Stevie-Marie Mullins, Rachel Bates and Olivia Schnoering. Not pictured: Kerri Andre, Cheyenne Beck, Elisah Craft, Kelli Crowley, Taylor Hallmon, Autumn Jaworski, Jordan Lewis, Alexa Schultz, Laura Valcourt and Brittany Walker

Let’s Hear it for the Boys Not to be outdone, the  11 and under  boys team from BUSC, known as the ’99 Storm,  took on seven other teams from several different states to win the  Vulcan Cup Tournament in  Birmingham, Ala., in March. “It was a wet weekend in Birmingham.  But when you’re seeing them play against some of the best talent in their age group, it’s amazing,” said parent and former BUSC Vice President Steve Pehr. The Storm blew past the first six teams in the eight-on-eight competition with relative ease, but Pehr said it was a nail biter watching the Storm and the Atlanta Concord in the championship game. After 60 minutes of regular play, two 10-minute overtimes and a shootout, the game went 20

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into sudden death — and the Storm came out on top. “These kids just work so hard, and what makes this set of boys really click is that they support each other,” said Pehr. The 11 boys who made up the team have played together for several years now. It’s a big commitment being a part of a traveling soccer team, but these boys love every minute. Small Town, Big Talent The Bay United Soccer Club began playing competitively in the Spring of 1991, giving boys and girls from four to 18 years of age the chance to learn and grow in a competitive sport. In fact, BUSC is the largest competitive soccer club in Region D, which spans from Pensacola to Tallahassee. “Soccer teaches our young players many life lessons. It teaches character, determination, effort (and) working together to achieve goals,” said BUSC President Steve Bailey. Over the last 20 years, it’s teamwork that has catapulted this relatively small club into the soccer spotlight over and over again. Each team brings something unique

to the sport and something great to the BUSC and Bay County as a whole. Fans can only look forward to the accomplishments next season will bring. n

Going for the Goal Bay United Soccer Club currently has three teams ranked in the top five in the state and nationally, according to Sincsports. The club also touts: • 45 Championships • 4 Region D Championships • 1 FYSA President’s Cup Finalist • 1 Florida State Cup Finalist • 1 Invitation to the Southern Regional Tournament for U.S. Youth Soccer in Tennessee

photo by scott holstein

their all, but teams like Texas Lonestar and Texas Sting were just too tough.  Regardless of the outcome, the competition definitely gave the girls some bragging rights. “As far as we know, there’s never been another team from Region D to advance to the regional tournament,” Lehtio said.


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Editor’s Choice

Nostalgia Ride Teddy and Jenny Meeks have brought the spirit of Panama City Beach’s Miracle Strip Amusement Park back to life, rescuing the remnants of rides from an unlocked warehouse and setting them up in Pier Park.

A Miracle Revived Unlocked storage unit provides foundation for the new version of an old favorite

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or 41 years, more than 20 million visitors spent many a day at Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City Beach, an iconic treasure for local families and tourists alike. The original Miracle Strip, located on Front Beach Road, closed in 2004 when owner Billy Lark, after experiencing a decline in ticket sales and an increase in expenses, sold the land to developers who wanted to build condominiums on the site. The condos were never built, the lot is still empty and many of the rides had been sitting in storage since the last day they operated in 2004. Four years later, while enjoying lunch outside the newly opened Pier Park just a few miles west on Front Beach Road, Teddy and Jenny Meeks, a couple in their early 40s who own a jewelry and handbag manufacturing business in Griffin, Ga., saw an unmet need and got a business idea. “I thought they needed something out

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here for kids,” Teddy Meeks explains. “My first thought was a Ferris wheel or carousel or something of that sort.” He started doing the necessary research and found a broker out of Tennessee. After searching the country through the broker, he discovered that the perfect carousel was just down the street, in storage at the old Miracle Strip Amusement Park site. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Meeks laughed at the broker. “It was in an old beat up semi trailer, not even locked. Everything over there had been destroyed. Every building had been vandalized. Every window was broken. Wiring had been stolen. But every single piece of the carousel was still there. The horses were just sitting on the wall. Anyone could have come in and taken them, but every nut and bolt was still there.” In March of 2010, the Meeks opened Miracle Strip’s original carousel as a lone ride across from the Grand Theatre in Pier

Park, which is owned by Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall owner in the U.S. The ride was an immediate and huge success. Simon Property Group officials liked the idea, and in the coming months the Meeks added a Ferris wheel, Tilt-a-Whirl, Balloon Racer, Scrambler, Red Baron plane ride and most recently, a butterfly pavilion. “Our first year was beyond belief,” Meeks says. “Everyone — locals, tourists, Pier Park — said it was great.” The Meeks found more rides in the same storage area on the old Miracle Strip site. “At first I thought I didn’t have any place for them,” he says. “We just wanted to do the one carousel, but they kept lowering the price so I felt I could at least do something with them.” The Meeks brought back to life four original Miracle Strip rides. The Balloon Race and some other rides had been sold to other parks in the country, so the Meeks

photo by scott holstein

By Wendy O. Dixon


bought the remaining rides from the same manufacturer that built the original ones, keeping with the same nostalgic carnival look. “They’ve been making them the same way for 100 years so it was easy to duplicate them,” Meeks says. The family refurbished the rides, which are freshly painted in bright, cheerful hues. Now they are adding yellow and white daffodils, pink and purple petunias and animal-shaped topiaries, along with benches and canopies for families who want to escape from the hot sun. Also new, the butterfly pavilion houses around 700 butterflies and moths in 30 Florida native species. “We’ve got the whole life cycle here,” Meeks says as he points out a monarch caterpillar munching on tropical milkweed, then the cocoon house which nurtures cocoons in various stages of development. A zebra longwing butterfly, so

Panama City Beach now includes a midnight ride on the carousel for Miracle Strip fans. “We’ve had three generations take a ride on the carousel together,” Meeks says. “People post their photos on our Facebook page all the time.” Simon Support When Jenny and Teddy Meeks first approached Simon Property Group about the prospect of adding a carousel, and eventually a miniature amusement park, Pier Park General Manager David Lee was a welcome ally. “It’s been a sell on our part because Simon is in the mall business, not the amusement park business,” Teddy Meeks says. “David Lee has done a great job of communicating (our vision) to Simon. It was well received by the public, especially the

Troy University and sons Hudson, a high school senior, and Davis, a freshman, attend Arnold High School). “With our jobs being done online, our kids basically thought we just sat at the computer all day,” Teddy Meeks says. “They didn’t understand the business aspect of it. We started the carousel so they could learn how to do business.” Everyone in the Meeks family works shifts at the park. Teddy Meeks comes in every morning to start the two-hour-aday preparation to open the park, including inspecting and maintaining each ride and watering and fertilizing the dozens of plants. Jenny Meeks works the afternoon shift, managing the kids, who provide customer service. “They’ve learned how to deal with customers and money; my sons can change out the mechanical parts,” Teddy Meeks says.

“Miracle Strip has been an iconic addition to Pier Park. We’ve captured the nostalgia of what Miracle Strip was to generations of families who visited the beach.” – David Lee called because of its white stripes on black wings, flits daintily from flower to flower. “My goal is for it to be a park with amusements, not an amusement park.” Love blooms at Miracle Strip While most of the visitors to the new Miracle Strip at Pier Park are families, adult couples find romance atop the Ferris wheel or while riding on the carousel. “One night when it was about time to close, a couple in their mid-40s bought their tickets and rode the carousel,” Meeks recalls. “They were both sobbing, then they told us they had both worked at this same carousel at Miracle Strip, and even got engaged on the carousel, so it was a special time for them.” One couple has exchanged wedding vows on the carousel. Prom goers include riding the Tilt-a-Whirl or Ferris wheel as part of their fun night. New Year’s Eve in

locals. And Simon really liked it.” Lee says the Miracle Strip rides are the most talked about feature at the park. “Pier Park is unique in Simon’s portfolio because of its location. We have only a few tourist properties,” Lee says. “Miracle Strip has been an iconic addition to Pier Park. We’ve captured the nostalgia of what Miracle Strip was to generations of families who visited the beach.” A Family Affair Jenny and Teddy Meeks, along with their three children, moved from Griffin, Ga., eight years ago to enjoy life at the beach. They still run the handbag and jewelry manufacturing business through monthly in-person meetings, otherwise using technology to run the business from their home in Panama City Beach. The Meeks’ three kids are teens now (daughter Morgan, 19, is a sophomore at

“Most of the time, they’re good kids, they don’t mind working and they’ve learned a tremendous amount. They get to see us in action because Jenny and I talk about the business and paying the bills. It’s been really good for the whole family.” The park closes for three weeks in January to do heavy maintenance and repairs on the rides, which stay on site during that time. Otherwise, the park is open. Tickets are $3.50 per ride or $18 for an unlimited ride armband. The Meeks pay a ground lease and rental fee, like all the other stores and restaurants at Pier Park. Future plans include the addition of concessions, restrooms and more rides. The new, miniature version of Miracle Strip in the prime location at Pier Park started with an idea during lunch and turned into an entrepreneurial success story. Teddy Meeks says, “The rest is pure luck.” n BAY LIFE

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calendar of events SEPTEMBER through november 2011

Sept. 23 Women’s Work-Life Symposium Oprah Winfrey’s favorite guest, Dr. Tereria Trent, as well as other dynamic women, will speak at the second annual Women’s WorkLife Symposium. Admission includes sessions on topics such as creating work-life balance for the modern woman, achieving dreams against all odds and exploring sensuality. Breakfast, lunch and wine reception included. $99. FSU PC Holley Academic Center, Panama City. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. To register, call (850) 235-1159. Sept. 23 Flip Flop Formal Enjoy a warm fall evening under the stars while supporting a good cause. The Pregnancy Resource Center and House of Grace Maternity home host the Flip Flop Formal, and there’s nothing stuffy about this party. Sport your “Florida Formal” sundress, tropical prints and flip flops and enjoy an evening of dancing and dining. All proceeds benefit the Pregnancy Resource Center and the House of Grace Maternity Home. $25. Aaron Bessant Amphitheater at Pier Park, Panama City Beach. 6:30–9 p.m. (850) 763-1100, anotherheart.org Sept. 29–Oct. 2 11th Annual Thunder Beach Autumn Rally Bikers, vendors and exhibitors from around the country come to Panama City Beach for Panama City Beach Bike Week the last weekend in September. Enjoy the food and music, and while you’re at it get a look at the hottest custom motorcycles and accessories available, all while experiencing a scenic ride on The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches. FREE. Pier Park and other locations throughout Panama City Beach. thunderbeachproductions.com Sept. 30 & Oct. 1 Oktoberfest The Downtown Improvement Board transforms downtown Panama City into a bustling German-style village. Enjoy Bavarian food and music, a doggy wet T-shirt contest, extended store hours and children’s activities. FREE. Grace Ave., Panama City. Fri 5–10 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.–10.p.m. (850) 785-2554, panamacitydowntown.com Oct. 7–9 Franklin County Oyster Festival The three-day Franklin County Oyster Festival highlights the county’s proud seafood 24

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heritage.  The event is filled with educational displays, demonstrations, a shucking tournament, 5K race, fishing tournament and children’s games. Seafood will be served throughout the weekend. FREE. Eastpoint and St. George Island, 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. (850) 927-7744, oysterspat.com Oct. 8 Tickled Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Poker Run The Thunder Angels of Panama City celebrates its seventh annual Tickled Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Poker Run. This women’s motorcycle group welcomes all those who share the love of the open road to play poker, enjoy music, food and door prizes. Proceeds benefit Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. $10 donation per playing card (West Coast Poker). Registration 9–10:30 a.m. at Club Flashbacks, Hwy. 231 and Penny Road, Bayou George. FBO (first bike out) 9 a.m. LBO (last bike out)

10:30 a.m. LBI (last bike in) 3 p.m. at Club Flashbacks. Drawing starts at 3:30 p.m. For more information contact Nancy Castro at (850) 271-8419 or ncas7@aol.com. thunder-angels.org Oct. 10 Audubon Society Features Florida’s Rare and Fascinating Creatures The Bay County Audubon Society welcomes Matt Greene, a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who will present a PowerPoint presentation on the rare Red Cockaded Woodpecker and the Flatwoods Salamander. FREE. Panama City Garden Club, 810 Garden Club Drive, Panama City. 7 p.m. (850) 215-9424 or email Louisa Taylor louisat@ knology.net. baycountyaudubon.org       Oct. 14–16, 21–23 & 28–30 ‘I’ll Be Back Before Midnight’ A wonderfully spooky production in time

giving back Oct. 20

The Power of the Purse Recognizing powerful and courageous women while raising funds for the Panama City Beach Library, the Board of Directors of the library hosts the Power of the Purse, a fun night of food and music with a silent and live auction of items including designer handbags, gift baskets, golf packages, artwork and much more. $15. Boatyard Restaurant, on Grand Lagoon behind Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant, Panama City Beach. 4–7 p.m. pcblibrarywebsite.com


for Halloween, The Kaleidoscope Theatre presents this spine-chilling play for three weekends leading up to All Hallows’ Eve. Bodies appear and disappear at a remote cabin being rented to a couple by a strange farmer who tells gruesome ghost tales. This thriller is punctuated by special effects as the frightening events transpire. Adults $16, seniors/military $15 and students $8 when reserved by calling (850) 265-3226; door prices $1 higher. Kaleidoscope Theatre, 207 E. 24th Street, Lynn Haven. Show times are Fri and Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. kt-online.org   Oct. 15 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk Put on your pink bra, lace up your sneakers and join your community in the battle against breast cancer — all while getting in a good workout. With a goal of $130,000, teams have been raising money for weeks. And now is the time to honor cancer survivors and remember the ones who are gone. Those who raise $100 get a T-shirt. FREE. Aaron Bessant Park in Pier Park, Panama City Beach. Registration starts at 7 a.m., walk begins at 8 a.m. (850) 785-9205 ext. 3509. Sign up a team at putonyourpinkbra.com or email michelle@persistence-pr.com. Oct. 15 Forgotten Coast Bear Festival The festival is an opportunity for Floridians of all ages to learn about wildlife and the environment around them. “Procession of Species” parade, exhibits, live music, food and crafts fill this endearing annual event. FREE. Sands Park, Carrabelle. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information, email mybearevents@ myfwc.com or visit defenders.com. Oct. 17 & 18 Open auditions for ‘For Better’ Open auditions will be held at Kaleidoscope Theatre for the comedy “For Better,” which will be presented in January 2012. Director Sandy Wilson will be casting one male in his 60s, one in his 40s, and one in his 30s, as well as two women in their 30s and one in her 40s. Anyone interested in auditioning or volunteering in any capacity for this production is encouraged to attend. Kaleidoscope Theatre, 207 E. 24th Street, Lynn Haven. 7 p.m. (850) 265-3757, kt-online.org.   Nov. 4 Apalachicola Downtown Oyster Roast Seafood lovers and oyster aficionados will come out of their shells for the sixth annual Downtown Oyster Roast. The event, sponsored by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, will feature tasty oyster recipes of all kinds and live entertainment. The Garden Shop on Commerce Street, Apalachicola. 6–9 p.m. To reserve tickets call, (850) 653-9419 or email info@apalachicolabay.org.

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Miramar Beach — Bluewater Bay 850-267-4582 | bluewaterplasticsurger y.com BAY LIFE

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Nov. 4–5 Florida Seafood Festival The Florida Seafood Festival is a two-day event drawing thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola. The festival features a 5K road race, arts and crafts exhibits, seafood–related events and contests, musical entertainment and, of course, plenty of seafood. FREE. Battery Park, Apalachicola. Fri 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat 7 a.m.–11 p.m. (888) 653-8011, floridaseafoodfestival.com Nov. 7–12 Emerald Coast Cruizin’ Car Show The South’s best blast from the past familyfun event showcases thousands of classic cars, hot rods, custom cars and trucks. More than 125 top name automotive, craft and jewelry vendors will be available, as well as a huge swap meet and car corral. Mon–Wed events TBD. Thurs–Sat events will be held at the festival site. $10 daily admission, kids (12 and younger) FREE or $25 for a three-day pass. Frank Brown Park, 16200 Panama City Beach Pkwy, Panama City Beach. Thurs–Sat 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (662) 587-9572, emeraldcoastcruizin.com Nov. 10–13 Holly Fair Hosted by the Junior Service League of Panama City, this four-day shopping extravaganza offers unique gifts and specialty items from merchants across the country. The weekend begins with a preview party Thursday followed by a champagne brunch Friday and general admission through the weekend.

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Rosemary Beach Uncorked Insulated Concrete Building Systems

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The only thing lovelier than the food and wine pairings at this fall wine event is the delicious backdrop itself. Stroll the quaint cobblestone streets and explore the diverse culinary styles of eight Rosemary Beach restaurants. Each location will offer signature dishes paired with boutique wines for an extra special taste of Rosemary. End the experience with Amavida’s chocolate and coffee pairing. Tickets are $75 per person. 1–5 p.m. To reserve tickets, email info@rosemarybeachuncorked.com, call (877) 461-6037 or visit rosemarybeachuncorked.com.


best bet Nov. 4–5

Taste of The Beach – UnWineD The weekend of seven fabulous winerelated events all along the Emerald Coast offers guests a chance to experience a taste of superb domestic and international wines while tasting culinary delights prepared by local chefs. Two of those events will be held at Pier Park in Panama City Beach. UnWineD will feature exceptional wines and samples of savory cuisine prepared by local restaurants to be enjoyed while strolling outdoors alongside the many shops at Pier Park. Tickets are sold à la cart and are $35 each for UnWineD, other event prices range from $35 to $145 per person and may be purchased online. Pier Park in Panama City Beach. Fri 6–10 p.m., Sat 2–10 p.m. Other events for the Taste of The Beach are listed on tasteofthebeachfl.com.

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Proceeds benefit local charities. $50 preview party, $20 champagne brunch, $5 general admission. Boardwalk Beach Resort. 9450 S. Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach. Preview party Thurs 6–10 p.m., champagne brunch Fri 8–10 a.m., general admission Fri 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sun 11 a.m.–4 p.m. jslpanamacity.org Nov. 12 & 13 Festival of Nations The Downtown Improvement Board will once again transform downtown Harrison Avenue into global villages of dance, dress, music and great food from around the world. Experience many heritages and cultures, visit exotic lands and meet fascinating people. See traditional dance, hear new music for the first time, and listen to fascinating storytellers. FREE. Downtown Harrison Ave., Panama City. Sat 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (850) 785-2554, panamacitydowntown.com Nov. 14 Audubon Society Explores Assam and Bhutan The Bay County Audubon Society features world traveler Audubon bird expert Tony Menart, who will present a video on the Assam area of northeast India and the country of Bhutan. FREE. Panama City Garden Club, 810 Garden Club Drive, Panama City. 7 p.m. (850) 215-9424, or email Louisa Taylor louisat@ knology.net. baycountyaudubon.org. n BAY LIFE

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events

SOCIAL STUDIES

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6 8 TASTE OF THE BEACH “VINE TO WINE PREVIEW”: 1. Todd Vuchovich, Lauren Magli, Kitty Whitney, Stacey Brady and Myra Williams 2. Christopher Holbrook, Kendall Spencer and Heyward McKenzie 3. Anna Mohyisky, Jessica Proffitt and Levin Bracken 4. Ginger Madden, Brooke Lord and Sherri Edwards Cox [Photos by Chris St. John] Battle of the PINK bras: 5. Joy Poyant and Stacey Wood 6. Lori Kern and Robbin Seymour 7. Michelle Perez 8. LuAnn Ross and Jenifer Hiddleson [Photos by Wendy Dixon] BAY LIFE

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events

SOCIAL STUDIES

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AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY cattle barons’ ball: 1. Kathy Gentry, Kathy Nettles, Stephanie Bird and Connie Laymon 2. Lisa Johnson and Bruce Workman 3. Curt Keyser and Natalie Greeve 4. Brent and Brandy Carter, Matt and Angie Cherry 5. Nicole Mincey, Mark Hess, Trinity Smith, Jennifer and Shane Collins mistique: 6. Chloe Elfrinek and Kelsi McClanahan 7. Courtney Tomlinson, Candace Dionne and Kristie Canaday 8. Kim and Adam Acock 9. Sandy Porter and Kristen Sholtis [Photos by Wendy Dixon] 30

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Weddings a

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Three couples celebrate the day they will never forget By Angel a Howard

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ost women dream about their wedding day from the time they’re little girls. They know the dress they want, the colors, the decorations and the venue. All they need is Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet. While the details of the wedding may change as they grow or as Mr. Right puts his two cents into the mix, almost every woman will agree that her wedding day was perfect.

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photo by Kansas studios, Kansas Pitts Photography & Design


Sierra + Jake

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way he carried himself with such confidence took my breath away,” Sierra said. Mere months after they started dating, the couple took a trip to Orlando.  Jake planned to propose during their vacation, but he let  opportunity after opportunity pass by before finally dropping to one knee and asking Sierra to be his wife. “It was about time to head back home and we had just eaten dinner in Downtown Disney,” Jake said. “I walked her down to the lake and basically told her I couldn’t wait any longer to ask the girl of my dreams to be mine forever.”

The couple set their date for May 21, 2011,  which  gave them just four months to plan.  They wed in McKenzie Park in Downtown Panama City and celebrated with a reception at Jake’s parents’ home, built in 1918 by the Holmes family, founders of Millville — two perfect spots for their 1940s-inspired nuptials. “My everyday style has a bit of a vintage feel to it; he’s in the military and we are at war. So I envisioned our wedding as something World War II-ish,” said Sierra. “It just came out more vintage and less World War II but I couldn’t be happier with it.”

photos by Hanowell Photography

love of music brought Jake and Sierra Bancroft together.  The pair met a few years ago at Leitz Music in Downtown Panama City. “When I first saw Sierra come into the music store I worked at I thought to myself, ‘she’s hot.’ I saw that she had a Honda key on her keychain so I used it as an excuse to try to strike up a conversation of how I had a Honda also,” said Jake. Despite the cheesy pickup line, Sierra was hooked. “He is a musician, like myself, and he has the same sense of style as me, and the

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Wedding Gown D  ream Gowns, alterations by Michelle Dawe Bridesmaids’ Dresses T he Red Dress Shoppe (reddressshoppe.com) Groom & Groomsmen Black Tie Formal Wear Ceremony Site McKenzie Park Reception Venue Groom’s parents’ home Photography Hanowell Photography Invitations Handmade by the bride Hair & Makeup Margo Lewis Catering Twisted Sisters Catering Décor The bride Cakes Fatty Patty’s Cakes and Café Entertainment Cari Coleman Officiate Rob Harris

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Britni + deric

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desk every time I went to the office to see my mom,” said Deric. “And every time I saw it, I knew I wanted to meet her. After meeting her, I knew we would be married someday.” About a year and a half after they first met, Deric  proposed to his bride  in the bathroom of their house. “We were getting ready to go out for the night, and she was saying she didn’t have anything to wear,” Deric said. “I snuck off to get the ring and came back to the bathroom and told her she could wear this.” The spontaneity of the proposal made

the moment unbelievable for the unsuspecting bride. “I didn’t really think it was real at first, even with the ring on my finger,” Britni said. After calling family and friends to share the news, the couple got down to business, planning their perfect day.  The two became one at a brightly colored springtime wedding on April 23, 2011, at Laketown Wharf, followed by a festive reception at Boardwalk Beach Resort.   “The best part of the day was marrying my best friend,” said Britni, “and kissing him for the first time as husband and wife.”

photos by Heather walker Photography

ritni  and Deric Darsey were dating other people when they met in March  2009. But as fate would have it, both relationships soon ended and the newly singled pair began dating. “I had surgery not long after we went on our first date,” said Britni. “And from that moment, I knew he was something special by the way he took complete care of me. He showed me what a real man was, and he began to capture my heart.” The two were first set up by their moms, who worked in the same office. “I would see her picture on her mom’s

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Groom: The New Wedding Planner

Wedding Gown S imply Elegant, Fort Walton Beach Bridesmaids’ Dresses Dream Gowns Grooms & Groomsmen Black Tie Formalwear Ceremony Site Laketown Wharf Reception Venue Boardwalk Beach Resort Photography Heather Walker Photography Invitations No Regrets Stationary

Hair Shelly Losh, Headstrong Designs Makeup M AC makeup by Becca Griffin, Dillard’s Catering Boardwalk Beach Resort Decor and Flowers Sheer Elegance Beach Weddings Cake Sunshine Sweets Bakery Officiate Jack Williams

Cable channel TLC has broken the mold when it comes to the roles men and women play in planning a wedding. From the location to the menu, even the bride’s dress, grooms are getting more involved in the planning of their big day. “Mark was more involved with planning than I had expected. It was definitely a good thing because he helped me get things taken care of. He found our wedding venue,” said Danielle. Some brides take their hubby-tobe’s enthusiasm to help as a way to pawn off tasks they don’t want to do, while others use it as a way to get their guy jazzed about the momentous occasion, assigning him to choose a honeymoon destination, the cake or the evening entertainment. Still others take on the whole process together. “I didn’t do anything without asking him first,” Britni said with a chuckle. “It was definitely a good thing. I could not have seen me doing this by myself without him. He definitely kept me from becoming a bridezilla.” Bay Life

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Danielle + Mark

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nervous. It was a challenge for me just to maintain eye contact,” said Mark. The two went to the Shrimp Boat restaurant in downtown St. Andrews  for their first date — the same place Mark would later propose.  “I worked everything out with the restaurant manager in advance to make sure everything would go smoothly,” Mark remembered. “I was worried about her seeing the box in my pocket all night or me handing it off to the manager, but when I got on one knee I could tell she had no idea.” However, Danielle was the only one in

the dark about the evening’s events. “The whole restaurant applauded,” Danielle recalled. “Apparently they knew the whole time what was going on because our waiter had been discreetly sharing the news with them while we were eating.” The two planned an April 9, 2011, wedding that overflowed with classic Southern charm at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club. “Aside from getting to marry my dream guy,  the best part of our wedding was the  overwhelming love and support we had from our family and friends,” Danielle said. “They were all there with us.”

photos by Kansas studios, Kansas Pitts Photography & Design

ark and Danielle Kinkade met Jan. 2, 2009, under the pretext of financial planner and potential new client. But they both knew the real meaning of their appointment. Two friends wanted them to meet to scope each other out and see if there was any interest. Turns out, there was. “As soon as I saw Mark I could not believe how ridiculously handsome he was.” The attraction was mutual. “She walked into my office and I saw her smile when we shook hands, and I was done for. She looked so beautiful. I can’t remember myself ever being that

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Wedding Gown Simply Elegant, Fort Walton Beach Bridesmaids’ Dresses LulaKate Groom & Groomsmen Black Tie Formalwear  Ceremony Site St. Dominic’s Catholic Church Reception Venue Shark’s Tooth Golf Club Photography Kansas Studios, Kansas Pitts Photography & Design Invitations The American Wedding Hair Fusion Spa and Salon Makeup Nichole Mollman, the bride’s sister and maid of honor Catering Shark’s Tooth Golf Club Florist Events by Nouveau Flowers Cake Cakes by Tanis Groom’s Cake by Rose Mathey Entertainment Gulf Talent Services Officiate Rev. Kevin McQuone

Registry Trends Gone are the days of filling your wedding registry with only the necessities like dishes, glasses, pots and pans. Most couples have all that — and sometimes duplicates — by the time they decide to tie the knot. That leads many of today’s brides and grooms to think “outside the box” and register for other things they like,

enjoy, want or need, like sporting goods or money toward a honeymoon. Deric and Britni had their own homes before marrying each other. They had the basics, so they asked for gifts that were perhaps a little more fun. “We asked all of our friends and family for money and gift cards because

we love going out to eat and traveling,” Britni said. Others register for the traditional items and throw in an oddball item here and there just to spice it up. “Jake did put a giant sparkly bouncy ball on there,” Sierra said. “But for some reason no one got it for us.” Bay Life

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You don’t need a passport to indulge in these hot local restaurants with international flavor By Wendy O. Dixon + Valerie Lovett Photography by scott holstein

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he world is full of exciting food. And while everyone’s got an opinion about which part of the globe tops the list of best cuisine, each nation has something delicious. Mediterranean cuisine, which focuses on fish, olive oil, vegetables and full flavors, is widely popular for its healthful and delicious meals. Ever try Japanese yakitori? Just like getting a hot dog from a street vendor in New York City, you can walk down any street in Japan and purchase the teriyaki-flavored chicken on a stick. Thai cuisine is characterized by a harmonious balance of spicy, sweet, nutty and sour. And could you imagine life without pizza? Thank you, Italy, for pizza margherita. Made with a crispy thin crust, tomato sauce, grated Parmigianino Reggiano and fresh basil, it should be its own food group. Americans are proud of our burgers and fries, but if you’re hungry for something different, try broadening your culinary horizons. And if you’re short on vacation time, you don’t even have to leave Bay County.

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photo illustration by marc l. thomas


W

e visited several local restaurants that serve cuisine from other parts of the world, offering a taste of Germany, Mexico, Japan, Pakistan and Greece, among others. Most of them stick to their nation’s authentic recipes or alter them ever so slightly to appeal to the American taste buds. Whet your appetite with these eight international restaurants.

Shan Kishi

japanese owner Feng Huang, who lived in New York City and visited Panama City Beach while on vacation, opened Shan Kishi in January 2009 to offer a restaurant that serves sushi to his standards.

InsiDer’s

tip!

Yu explains that the restaurant is so busy during spring break, locals at times have to wait. It’s best to come any other time of year.

The vibe

The warm brown and golden tones on the walls, ceiling and furniture, along with the intimate size of the room and soft Asian music, make for an exotic alternative to the massive seafood restaurants that dominate Panama City Beach. The cuisine

Japanese fusion, with the emphasis being on fresh sushi, hibachi and teriyaki. The restaurant also serves rolls, salads, tempura and steaks. Signature dish

Sushi Chef Yakoo trained in Osaka, Japan, and first prepared Sakurai — tuna prepared and presented to resemble the beautiful Japanese flower with the same name — when he was 16 years old. This dish is not on the menu, but you can request it any time. Not only is the food at Shan Kishi delicious, it is presented as a work of art on a plate.

Food philosophy

“Our steak and some of the chicken is Americanized, but everything else is authentic Japanese,” says manager Crystal Yu. “The food, of course, is beautiful. But people come back because they feel like family.” Most important item in the kitchen

Bottom line

“My sushi knife,” says Chef Yakoo. “It’s called Zheng Ben in Chinese and Japanese.”

Shan Kishi offers a beautiful presentation of food in a comfortable, friendly place.

Most important ingredient

Serving up

“A smile. It’s so important to make our guests feel good when they come here,” says Yu. “We put our hearts into our work.” 42

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Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Saturdays) and Sunday Noon–10 p.m.

(850) 249-3663 13800 Panama City Beach Parkway, #101D Panama City Beach


InsiDer’s

tip!

Kabob House

Uzbek/Greek owners Husband and wife culinary team Mirabrol Gulyamov and Gulnorna Gulyamova and their daughters, Malika and Nadira Gulyamova

While alcohol is not listed on the menu, feel free to bring in your favorite bottle of wine or specialty beer for pairing.

The Vibe

A quaint, tidy hole-in-the-wall at Drew Station off 15th Street in Panama City. Freshly painted walls, with tapestries and artwork in deep reds, are complemented by lilting world beat music. The cuisine

The Gulyamov family, only a few years stateside from their native Uzbekistan, brings uniquely authentic — and delicious — Uzbek and Greek food to Panama City. Kabobs galore — beef, lamb, chicken, veggies and more — pair nicely with a panorama of Greek options, including fresh moussaka and pastitso. Signature dish

Marinated and beautifully grilled kabobs traditionally skewered and served with fresh pita, rice and marinara sauce or vinegar-soaked onions comprise Kabob House’s signature dish. Signature dessert

Homemade baklava. It’s not on the menu, but is available daily. One small triangle of this sweet treat packs enough flavor and richness to satisfy even the sweetest tooth. Food philosophy

“Fresh ingredients, always,” says Malika Gulyamova of her family’s food philosophy. Most important ingredient

Cumin, easily.

At Kabob House, beef, lamb, chicken and veggies are skewered and served with fresh pita, rice and vinegar-soaked onions.

Bottom line

If you’re seeking authenticity, Kabob House offers it in spades. Serving up

Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

(850) 481-1294 1405C W. 15th Street Panama City

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Tony’s Taste of Ybor City Spanish/Cuban/Italian owners Tony and Jennifer Sierra, who opened the restaurant in May 2011 The vibe

Recently renovated with new air conditioning, paint and carpet, Tony’s Taste now has a light, beach-inspired color palate with hues of blue, teal and green. The family-friendly atmosphere ensures your kids won’t hear any inappropriate language coming from the restaurant’s customers. The cuisine

Tony and Jennifer Sierra insist on cleaving to Tony’s 92-year-old mother’s recipes, which have been passed from many generations. The restaurant’s name is inspired by Tony’s hometown, Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter founded by cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Early on, the city incorporated the flavors of the locals — made up of Spaniards, Cubans and Sicilians. The cuisine became a harmonious blend of the three cultures.

InsiDer’s

tip!

For special offers and information on entertainment, text “Tony’s Taste” to 902-10.

Signature dish

The Cuban-style black beans served over rice with Cuban-style roast pork, which marinates for three days and cooks for nine hours. “When people ask me what is my favorite dish,” Tony explains, “I tell them it depends on what day it is. It changes a lot, because it’s all good.” Food philosophy

“If we wouldn’t eat it, we don’t serve it,” says Jennifer, who admits her vendors are realizing they are extremely particular about the ingredients they purchase. “And we only serve fresh, locally caught blue crab, we don’t add fillers,” Tony adds. “We’d rather have to tell you we’ve run out of a certain dish than serve you a lesser quality substitution.” Most important ingredients

Fresh seasonings, grown in the garden outside the restaurant. Bottom line

Tony Sierra grew up with these recipes, which he describes as customary Ybor City staples, so maintaining the authenticity of the ingredients is key. For a family-friendly, reasonably priced Latin experience, Tony’s Taste is your place. Serving up

Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 44

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Try the black beans with roast pork, both made Cuban-style at Tony’s Taste.

(850) 230-3840 8100 Thomas Drive Panama City Beach TonysTasteOfYbor.com


Hofbräu Beer Garden

Germany owners Jeremy Pitt and Brian Kehl, who opened the beer hall after several inspired trips to Munich, Germany, during Oktoberfest The vibe

The authentic Bavarian beer hall has a family-friendly atmosphere with outdoor dining and a beer garden. As an accordionist plays festive tunes such as “Roll Out the Barrel” and “Edelweiss” from the movie “The Sound of Music,” you’re bound to get in the Bavarian spirit. Everyone does — and they do it together. The bench-style seating facilitates fast friendships. A slogan written on the ceiling’s arc reads, “Durst ist schlimmer als Heimweh,” which means, “Thirst is worse than being homesick.” The cuisine

A menu that stays true to Bavarian cuisine. Even better, the beer is imported from Germany. Chemicals in the detergents affect the flavor, so they wash their glasses in water that is 180 degrees, with minimal detergent for a clean, pure tasting beer. Signature dishes

Among the favorite specialties are Usinger’s World Famous Bratwurst, a classic Bavarian sausage, as are the brezn (pretzels) — imported from Munich and

made with flour ground at the Münchner Hofbräumühle (the original royal mill). People come back again and again for the ribeye steak. And for brunch, the pancakes and mimosas are delightful. Food philosophy

“We stay true to the German roots,” says co-owner Jeremy Pitt. “We love the people, the food, everything about Germany.” Most important ingredient

“Attention to detail,” Pitt says. “If you don’t get Bavarian food right and someone knows it, it’s bad for business.” Bottom line

Hofbräu is a step away from the beach and into Bavaria. “We get a lot of customers who have been to Munich,” says co-owner Brian Kehl. “When they come in they say, ‘This reminds me of Germany.’” Serving up

Brunch, lunch and dinner daily from 10 a.m.

(850) 235-4632 701 Pier Park Drive Panama City Beach HofbrauPCB.com You’ll be feeling fine at Hofbräu, where strangers become friends in the familystyle bench seating.

InsiDer’s

tip!

Ask about the Stein Club, where members can gather with old friends and make new ones while enjoying beer, free appetizers and other VIP perks.

Bay Life

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Willows British Tea Room England owners Linda Smith, who heads up the kitchen, and her daughter, Wendy Hodgson, who manages the finances and marketing The vibe

Signature dessert

A calm, restful family-owned restaurant in downtown Panama City. Customers enjoy reading a book or using free Wi-Fi while listening to classical music. Large photos of England’s famous landmarks line the exposed brick wall, while art on loan from the Visual Arts Center is displayed on the opposite wall.

Apple Dapple Cake. “We cook apples, cinnamon and walnuts and pour it over a hot cake then stab it with a spike all over,” says Smith. “Then douse it with a hot caramel sauce we make ourselves and soak it overnight. It’s one of our most popular desserts.”

The cuisine

English hot meals, soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and, of course, freshly brewed tea. Willows offers a huge variety of flavored teas, steeped to perfection and served in a pot. Try the freshly baked scones served with jam and cream or an assortment of tea pastries. On your way out, purchase some English groceries to go. Signature dish

Shepherd’s Pie, made with fresh ground beef and about a dozen vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and served with gravy. You’ll find no cheese on this dish, as is customary in most parts of England. The mulligatawny, a curried vegetable soup, incorporates the Indian spices the British soldiers brought home after the British Raj (a time period when Britain controlled India).

InsiDer’s

tip!

“The best time to come is at 2 p.m. on a stormy afternoon,” Smith recommends. “Because you’re fed up staying in your home. You can enjoy tea and pastries while reading our books.”

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Food philosophy

“We use fresh ingredients,” Smith says. “It’s also important to keep a good balance of fat, carbohydrates and fiber. We cook good food and don’t overdo portion sizes.” Most important ingredient

TLC (tender loving care). Bottom line

“We know our regular customers by name and usually know what they are going to eat before they sit at a table,” Smith says. Serving up

Lunch and afternoon tea and snacks Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.

(850) 747-1004 461 Harrison Avenue Panama City WillowsTea.com Fresh pastries and hot tea make for a perfect afternoon at Willows.


InsiDer’s

tip!

If you come during the summer months, the only time they serve it, try the seasoned sweet sticky rice with coconut milk and mango.

Jazmine Thai Cuisine

Thailand owner Kate Chin chose the name Jazmine to reflect the fragrant jasmine flower, as well as jasmine rice, which has a sweet smell similar to the flower. The vibe

This upscale yet casual restaurant on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach is kid-friendly, but has cozy booths for semi-privacy. As you enter the restaurant, the ornate mannequins donned with hand-made costumes that are posed in a scene replicated from The Khon, a traditional Thai masked drama depicting a battle between a handsome prince defending his bride against the evil monkey demon, take your breath away. The cuisine

Jazmine’s serves fresh sushi and authentic Thai dishes, all with no MSG. Most menu items are gluten-free. “Many people think of Thai food as being spicy, but you can order nearly any dish to be served mild,” says Chin. “We prepare each meal to order and allow for customers to modify their meal.” Signature dishes

“Our most popular dish is the Paad Thai,” Chin says. “A stir-fried rice noodle with sweet radish, peanut, egg and bean sprouts.” For something spicy, try the green curry, a sweet curry in coconut milk with Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots and basil leaves, or the red curry, seasoned with red curry paste, bell pepper and bamboo shoots. Food philosophy

“We try to stay true to the ingredients used in Thailand by using authentic ingredients,” says Chin. “Last year, there was a drought in Thailand and the price of coconut milk doubled. Other Thai restaurants started substituting cream and half-and-half for the coconut milk, but we don’t compromise on quality.” Try Jazmine’s chicken Paad Thai, which can be prepared to suit those who like spicy or mild flavors.

(850) 249-2010 2629 Thomas Drive Panama City Beach JazmineThaiPCB.com

Most important ingredients

“We use a spice and herb mixture of Thai chili, ginger, basil, lemongrass and tamarind,” Chin explains. Bottom line

Friendly service, hefty portions and fresh ingredients await you at Jazmine’s. Serving up

Lunch and dinner daily 11 a.m.– 9:30 p.m. Bay Life

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InsiDer’s

tip!

Seoul Garden

Try the spicy soy sauce, and if that’s not hot enough for you, add a few drops of Sriracha sauce to warm it further. Plus, they sell kimchee right out of the kitchen for at-home preparation. 

Korean owners Husband and wife Sun and Hyang Choe

The vibe

Seoul Garden is a tidy, small space with tables divided by Asian screens that make dining a cozy, private experience. The cuisine

Homemade traditional Korean dishes from benign to spicy grace Seoul Garden’s menu with lots of fresh vegetables, meat and fish. Signature dishes

For those seeking spice in life, try the always popular Spicy Bul Go Gi in beef or pork or Spicy Chicken. Korean soup, served with noodles, is also a popular choice. Signature dessert

Leave your sweet tooth at home if you’re planning a visit to Seoul Garden. They don’t do desserts, but the portions are hearty enough that you won’t need any. Food philosophy

Seoul Garden has brought an authentic taste of Korea to Bay County for 12 years. Fresh ingredients and truly artful presentation make the experience memorable. Most important ingredient

Fresh produce and meat are mainstays, says Hyang Choe, but she highlights Korean mint as an important component of the duo’s culinary repertoire. Bottom line

Seoul Garden’s food is so good, even the most talented of non-native chopstick users will ask for a fork to be sure they get every last bite. Serving up

Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Hyang Choe says they’ll open on Mondays again when the weather cools a bit. 48

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Seoul Garden’s portions are hearty enough for you to forgo the need for dessert.

(850) 747-0303 416 N. Tyndall Parkway Panama City


InsiDer’s

tip!

Try the award-winning shrimp seviche, served in a martini-glass brimming with the freshly made concoction. Truly a must-have.

A local favorite for years, Los Antojitos draws a huge crowd every weekend.

Los Antojitos Mexican owners Mynta and Matt Harbison

(850) 784-6633 4809 W. U.S. 98 Panama City losantojitos.com

The Vibe

Signature dessert

Artsy, fun and colorful, scenic murals cover the walls and tabletops. Patrons may sit in an outdoor covered bar area or inside, but there’s a lot to look at either way.

Apple cheesecake chimichanga. Caramelized green apple cheesecake filling is stuffed into a flour tortilla, fried and served with caramel and ice cream.

margaritas are made with freshly squeezed lime juice.

The cuisine

Food philosophy

Bottom line

Los Antojitos offers Mexican food with plenty of fresh local seafood thrown into the mix.

“Funky, fun and always fresh,” says owner Mynta Harbison. “Our food is made fresh daily, the way food should be.”

Los Antojitos is a Panama City staple, bringing locals fresh Mexican food since 1976. It’s a go-to for those with a south-ofthe-border craving.

Signature dishes

Most important ingredient

Serving up

Freshness is of the upmost importance. An example: Los Antojitos’ top shelf

Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m.– 9:30 p.m.

Signature dishes include fish and shrimp tacos, seafood enchiladas, the SuperDuper baked burrito and the Myntalina burrito.

Bay Life

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Brian Proctor’s Quest for the Perfect Shot at Wildlife — With His Camera TEXT By Jason Dehart • PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN PROCTOR

W

ildlife photographer Brian Proctor likes nothing better than sitting for hours in a hunting blind waiting patiently with one of his Cannon digital cameras, a selection of lenses — and a strong desire to get the perfect shot. “I love the outdoors. I do a lot of hunting and fishing, and I think probably the photography part of it keeps me in the woods a little bit longer,” said Proctor about his 30-year obsession. Proctor’s vocation is commercial real estate broker with Southland Commercial/Sperry Van Ness in Tallahassee. But he likes to take a walk on the wild side every chance he gets. He’ll venture down to the national wildlife refuge at St. Marks, which teems with varieties of wading birds, and he’s developed friendships that have allowed him to “shoot” quail and other wildlife at nearby plantations (he just finished a photo essay book based on photos from one South Georgia plantation). His photographs of turkeys have served as reference material for wildlife artists, and his shots have appeared alongside articles in Field & Stream magazine.

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Although he will “shoot” anything that crosses his path — including cottonmouths and rattlesnakes — his first focus is on game animals. “It’s been my focus because I love to hunt anyway, so deer, turkey, ducks … those are the types of game animals I enjoy doing,” he said. Whatever the subject, wildlife photography can be challenging at times. “I think the most challenging for me is capturing ducks in flight,” Proctor said. It’s tough, he said, because of their speed and stopping the wing motion action. Photographing in morning and late afternoon light also makes it very hard to capture a sharp image. Making it even tougher is the fact he uses a long, heavy 400mm lens, which he has to hold by hand to have the freedom to track his quarry across the sky. “If it’s a deer standing still, no challenge. But if it’s moving, whether it’s a bird or a seagull or eagle or duck, it’s just (difficult),” he said. “(It’s all about) timing, luck and just being in the right place at the right time.” n


Looking for a meal in the outgoing tide, this White Heron was perched to hunt on the edge of a dock on Little Gasparilla Island near Boca Grande, outside Charlotte Harbor.

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This osprey (right) photographed on Little Gasparilla Island near Charlotte Harbor was bringing wet sea grass back to the nest on a hot day, and Proctor speculates the adult bird was trying to keep its young cooled down. Osprey feed largely on fish and are common along waterways and seashores throughout the world.  A migrating swarm of bat-winged Cownose rays (bottom) stretches to the horizon off Boca Grande in this shot Proctor took while fishing for tarpon. “We followed along with them to photograph, and they paid no attention to us or the vessel were in,” he said. Cownose rays are found throughout the western Atlantic Ocean, and packs of up to 10,000 have been spotted between Florida and Yucatan, Mexico. 

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Watch where you sit. Proctor snapped this beautiful Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (top) during a turkey-hunting trip in Grady County, Georgia. “As I was going to sit down to do my calling, there was the snake laying right where I was trying to sit,” he said. “I figured I could hunt turkeys any other morning so I went back, got my camera and he was still there, so I started photographing him.” It was a cool morning and the snake wasn’t being aggressive, but that changed as the day started warming up. “I got 150 photos of him,” Proctor said. “I climbed up a branch to get over on top of him (to shoot), and thank goodness it didn’t break. Then he became much more aggressive, and I figured we would part ways.”  An osprey (left) on Little Gasparilla Island wings its way home with a large sea trout clutched in its talons. Proctor said these raptors kill their catch before taking them into the nest, to prevent the fish from flopping around and possibly knocking the young birds out of the nest. “These birds have to be shot with an extremely fast shutter speed to stop the wing movement,” he said. 

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Proctor came across this big cottonmouth (above, left) as he emerged from a duck blind on a dike in North Florida/South Georgia. It was a warm morning, and he had been photographing ducks when he saw the snake just three feet away. Initially its mouth was wide open but it closed as Proctor started taking photos. “I tried with a stick to get him to open his mouth again but didn’t want to fool with him too much because he was an extremely large moccasin,” he said.  Proctor and some friends were hunting Hungarian partridge in Saskatchewan when he spotted this owl (top right) perched in a weathered and abandoned barn. There are many barns like this on the open northern prairies, and owls like to take up residence to hunt for the small rodents and birds that take shelter in the tall grass or the trees planted as wind buffers around farmsteads. “It was one of those days I had a camera with me when hunting,” he said. “As luck would have it, this owl was sitting there in the frame of a window as a snowstorm was beginning. It was cold, and he was looking for the last meal of the day.”  A hooked tarpon (right) dances on the surface off Little Gasparilla Island. “We were tarpon fishing and I took the opportunity to get an action shot of a jumping tarpon,” Proctor said. “The anticipation of when they’re coming out of the water makes for a difficult thing to photograph and stop the action.”  54

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Green-winged teal (top), like this trio photographed on the wing, are the most difficult birds to photograph because of their speed, Proctor said. “They’re one of the fastest waterfowl species in our area,” he said. This shot was taken at a North Florida plantation in an elevated position on the edge of a lake.  A wood stork (above) going to roost in this late-afternoon shot taken from an elevated blind on a South Georgia plantation. These storks like freshwater and estuarine wetlands and primarily nest in cypress or mangrove swamps. They usually nest in large rookeries, and their diet consists of small fish like topminnows and sunfish. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists them as endangered. The breeding population is estimated to be 8,000 nesting pairs and is limited to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  Proctor encountered this fox squirrel (left) on a plantation in South Georgia. The docile animal wasn’t camera shy and waited for Proctor to get in position to take this shot. Proctor said he was actually looking for quail to photograph but decided to snap this shot when he noticed the big squirrel 15 feet up a pine tree. Fox squirrels are the largest squirrels in the Western Hemisphere.  Bay Life

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spec ia l a dve rt isi ng sec t ion

The doctors are in, and they are answering questions. In this special section, Bay Life Magazine offers you a chance to get to know some of the area’s leading health care providers dedicated to keeping you healthy inside and out. These medical professionals discuss their specialized skills, backgrounds and how they can help with your all-important health care choices.

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spec IA ia Ll A a DVE dve RT rt ISI isi NG ng SEC sec Tt ION ion SPEC

“Never forget where you come from. What you attain in life is not as important as what you give back.”

Hulon E. Crayton, M.D. The Arthritis and Infusion Center Rheumatology, which is the diagnosis and treatment of more than 150 arthritic and connective-tissue disorders. I treat patients with arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and related disorders.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING IN YOUR FIELD?

I’ve been practicing Rheumatology since 1986, 13 years of which have been in Bay County.

WHAT IS THE “SECRET” OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS?

Listening … really listening to my patients and then giving back more than I take in life. In addition, I’m a firm believer in giving back to the community in which you live. With that

in mind, my wife (Dinah) and I created the Crayton Health Sciences Endowed Scholarship to assist in providing minorities with a feasible way to attain the funding needed to attend college.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BAY COUNTY AS A PLACE IN WHICH TO WORK?

I moved here from Racine, Wis., where the winters are quite harsh. So, I just started driving south until I found a city where no one sold snow shovels.

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND?

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, I became a diplomat of the American Board of Rheumatology, and I have a Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration. I also served in the U.S. Army as well as

the Army Reserve, obtaining the rank of Captain.

HAS YOUR PRACTICE EXPANDED RECENTLY?

In addition to a fully staffed, comfortable on-site infusion center, we have added ultrasound to our patient services.

WHAT NEW PRACTICES OR TECHNOLOGIES DO YOU PROVIDE? We offer ultrasound, laboratory services, bone-density and nerve conduction studies.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?

I’m an entrepreneur by day … and sax player by night. I recently released my first CD – “First Impressions” which made a rapid climb on the smooth jazz charts. PHOTO BY SCOTT HOLSTEIN

WHAT IS YOUR AREA OF SPECIALTY?

THE ARTHRITIS AND INFUSION CENTER 2917 Hwy. 77, Panama City, Fla. 32405 • DrCrayton.net • (850) 873-6748

Bay Life

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spec SPECia IAlL a Adve DVErt RTisi ISIng NG sec SECtTion ION

InterVasc at Bay Radiology Vascular and interventional radiology is a profession many people are unaware of by name. It is a practice that specializes in minimally invasive procedures that take less time, involve less pain and result in faster recovery time than the traditional surgical procedures that it replaces. These are usually performed using ultrasound, CT scan or X-ray guidance.

The physicians and staff at InterVasc dedicate themselves to providing the best possible care in a warm friendly environment. As certain procedures must be performed in a hospital environment, InterVasc’s highly specialized physicians are on staff at both Bay Medical Center and Gulf Coast Medical Center performing hospital based procedures as needed at either facility.

INTERVASC AT BAY RADIOLOGY 52 7 N . P a lo A lto Ave ., P an ama City, FL 3 24 01 • (850) 747-4 9 05 • ivasc.net 58

f a ll 2 0 1 1

Photos by Linda Pitts, Bay Radiology

The list of procedures we perform includes: • Treatment of arteries and veins for vascular disease, especially peripheral vascular disease and varicose veins • Cancer treatments for unresectable tumors of the liver and kidneys • Treatment of acute stroke patients • Treatment of acute fractures of the spine • Biopsies anywhere in the body except the heart and brain • Drainage procedures to treat abscesses and abnormal fluid collections, especially in the chest and abdomen • Treatment of causes of female pelvic pain and bleeding • Diagnosis of vascular disease


SPEC A DVE RT ISI T ION spec ia lIAaLdve rt isi ngNG secSEC t ion

Scott L. Ramey, M.D.

Fellowship in Angiography/Interventional Radiology: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1990

EDUCATION

We work hard, provide outstanding service and have great respect for our patients and our coworkers. Our philosophy of state-of-the-art equipment and procedures with the best staff and physicians has held true and our practice has greatly expanded over the years.

Bachelor’s degree: zoology, University of North Carolina, 1977 Medical School: University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 1981 Residency: University of Florida, diagnostic radiology with emphasis in neuroradiology and interventional radiology, 1985

WHY DID YOU GET INTO THIS TYPE OF PRACTICE?

As a radiologist and physician, it appealed to me as a way to directly interact with patients and provide answers and solutions for their problems. It also appealed to me as an emerging, exciting medical profession with fantastic potential for growth, learning and advancement as new procedures are introduced. It also combined my interests in imaging and surgery while still maintaining exposure to diagnostic radiology.

Robert S. Bain Jr., M.D. EDUCATION

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 1990 Diagnostic radiology residency: University of Tennessee, 1991-1995 Vascular and interventional radiology fellowship: University of Tennessee, 1996

WHAT IS YOUR PRACTICE PHILOSOPHY?

We focus first on the needs of our patients. And we work hard to stay current on the very latest, cutting edge technologies and techniques. We measure our success one patient at a time.

WHAT IS THE SECRET OF INTERVASC’S SUCCESS?

Daniel L. Cox, P.A.–C. EDUCATION

Bachelor’s degree: James Madison University, Health Sciences, 1975 Physician Assistant Program: James Madison University, 1975

DESCRIBE ANY NEW PRACTICES, TECHNOLOGIES OR SYSTEMS WHICH YOU PROVIDE.

We offer the latest vascular procedures, including laser therapy for venous disease and Silver Hawk Atherectomy to remove plaque build-up in clogged or occluded arteries. Our equipment is state-of-theart with the best image quality and low radiation exposure using flat panel technology. We also have the newest diagnostic vascular ultrasound lab for the diagnosis of arterial and venous disease.

William S. Campbell, M.D. EDUCATION

Martin E. Sheline, M.D.

Medical School: University of Arkansas, 1982 Fellowship in interventional radiology and imaging: University of Miami, 1988

EDUCATION

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?

Medical School: University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 1985 Residency in Radiology: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1989

I strive to provide excellent radiology service, and achieve the best possible results for our interventional patients with a caring attitude. My grandfather was a family physician for 50 years in Arkansas. I am carrying on the family tradition, and three relatives are also physicians. Bay Life

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PHOTOS COURTESY THOMASVILLE TOURISM, CHIPLEY RAILROAD PHOTO COURTESY WASHINGTON COUNTY TDC

JEAN TRIPS

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FALL 2011


CAPITOL PHOTO BY SCOTT HOLSTEIN, PHOTO COURTESY GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Looking for a quick weekend getaway with minimum planning and maximum return? Pull on your favorite pair of blue jeans, hop in the car and get ready to meet the neighbors!

BAY LIFE

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Jean Trips

Washington Co.

WASHINGTON CO. Water, Wolves, Wine and More BY LILLY ROCKWELL

FALLING WATERS STATE PARK

SEACREST WOLF PRESERVE

EBRO RACE TRACK 62

FALL 2011

THE OUTDOORS The first thing to know about Washington County is that yes, it doesn’t have a large city like Pensacola, and you won’t find a mall. But what it offers in exchange is the opportunity to glimpse unfettered nature in a way you cannot in a larger city. Just off the intersection of Interstate 10 and Highway 77 is Falling Waters State Park. This pine-forested state park lives up to its name. If visitors are lucky (and there has been a recent rainstorm), they can glimpse the beautiful 73-foot waterfall whose claim to fame is being “Florida’s tallest waterfall.” For the hunters and fishers, opportunities to play in Washington County abound. At Hard Labor Creek Plantation, a 2,700-acre spread of land coated in pine trees, visitors can rent an A-frame cottage that sits steps away from a unspoiled blue lake surrounded by wilderness. Owner Ted Everett tells us his land is most popular with hunters. He offers quail and deer hunting as well as archery and skeet-shooting.

FOR THE HISTORY BUFFS In Chipley, Washington’s county seat, Mark and I took a walking tour of the historic downtown. Washington County Historical Society President Dorothy Odom tells us the town was named after William Dudley Chipley, a man who never even lived in the area but was responsible for steering the railroad through it. Having the railroad made Chipley the economic engine of the county and a good contender for county seat, which it yanked from the city of Vernon in 1927. Visitors shouldn’t neglect the History Museum in Chipley, which Odom runs. This charming museum is the keeper of all things historical about Washington County. It is a treasure trove of fascinating artifacts, such as a clunky, ancient wooden phone operating system, musty old yearbooks, uniforms and books that explain the area’s history. FUN AND GAMES When we weren’t soaking up history or enjoying the outdoors, Mark and I were kept occupied by the myriad choices for entertainment. The aforementioned Seacrest Wolf Preserve was an unforgettable experience that we talked about for days afterward. Owners Cynthia and Wade Watkins started the preserve in 1999, and it is now home to over 30 wolves. Their desire is to provide a safe haven for wolves, which they believe are misunderstood and wrongly treated as violent towards humans. On a Saturday night, Mark and I headed to the Ebro Race Track, which sits in the southwestern corner of Washington County. This greyhound racetrack has a long history in the area and was founded in 1955. When we arrived, the parking lot was packed. To our surprise, the track offers a formal dining area where we enjoyed a delectable meal. Ebro also offers a little bit of Las Vegas with its poker tables. You can play Texas Hold ’Em, Omaha Hi-Lo or Florida Three Card poker. There are limit and no-limit tables. But after our embarrassing losses at greyhound races, Mark and I decided to call it a night.

WATERFALL PHOTO COURTESY DANA HAYNES; SEACREST AND EBRO RACE TRACK PHOTOS COURTESY WASHINGTON COUNTY TDC

A

fluffy-haired white Arctic wolf jogged to where I was sitting on a grassy hillside and started licking my face. Instead of panicking or running away, I giggled. I wasn’t the slightest bit afraid because I had just spent the last few hours getting to know the dozens of wolves that make up Washington County’s Seacrest Wolf Preserve. This rare experience — Seacrest Wolf Preserve is one of a handful of places that allows people to go into wolf enclosures and pet them — was just one of many delightful diversions my husband and I experienced as tourists in Washington County. Yes, you can be a tourist in Washington County. Florida Panhandle residents who live near the beach tend to overlook their sparsely populated northern neighbors. They shouldn’t. My husband and I spent an entire weekend in Washington County and came away impressed with the area’s unique tourist attractions.


THOMASVILLE, GA. History, Shopping and Fabulous Food

Jean Trips

Thomasville, Ga.

BY LILLY ROCKWELL

PHOTOS COURTESY THOMASVILLE TOURISM; SWEET GRASS DAIRY CHEESE SHOP PHOTO BY SCOTT HOLSTEIN

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any of the tourists who come to Northwest Florida’s renowned beaches travel by car from nearby states like Alabama and Georgia, eager to see the wide expanse of the ocean and sink their feet into white sand. Now it’s time to return that favor. In southern Georgia sits the quaint city of Thomasville (population 20,000). My husband and I visited Thomasville recently and found the expected: history museums, a bedand-breakfast and antique shops galore. But quite unexpectedly, we also found a shopper’s paradise. Along Thomasville’s downtown Broad Street, I discovered a sportsman’s heaven of high-class hunting gear, hip clothing and house wares boutiques, a food shop coveted for its locally made cheeses, a charming bookstore, a sweet-smelling bakery, a coffee klatch that rivals any big city Starbucks, and even an old-fashioned soda fountain with children sipping milkshakes. And this town’s got more going on than shopping. Recreational opportunities abound. We blasted 20-gauge shotgun shells at clay pigeons; and had we planned for it, there would have been a prestigious 18-hole golf course beckoning. THE RESORT ERA To understand more about Thomasville, we first visited the Thomas County Museum of History, which is located inside a historic house. The house itself is filled with artifacts, such as the tiny-waisted dresses women wore in the 1800s. Unlike other Southern cities, such as Atlanta and Savannah, Thomasville was spared from property and rail damage inflicted during the Civil War. The town was able to bounce back quickly and focused on tourism, building resorts for Northerners who wanted a vacation spot with fresh, pine-scented air. Remnants of this resort era, and the wealth that Thomasville accumulated during that time, remain in the Thomas County area, with over 40 plantations still in existence. While there is much documented about the wealthy plantation class, little was kept or written down about the lives of black people throughout Thomas County’s history.

Luckily for tourists, military veteran and Thomasville resident Jack Hadley decided to turn his personal collection of black memorabilia into a museum. Hadley’s Black History Museum features his entire exhaustive personal collection and donated items. His own history is equally intriguing. Hadley was born on the area’s most well known plantation — Pebble Hill Plantation, a gorgeous museum with magnolias and pines dripping in Spanish moss across 3,000 acres. Visitors can roam the grounds, or pay for a tour of the main house on the property, which was finished in 1936. DINING OUT Don’t leave Thomasville without having the white cheddar cheese grits at Jonah’s Fish and Grits. They were truly the best grits I’ve ever had. Jonah’s is regionally known and was recently featured in Southern Living magazine. My personal favorite was Café Marebella. This snug Italian restaurant is located inside a renovated old train depot, with outdoor and indoor dining. One of the most unique Thomasville dining spots is the Sweet Grass Dairy cheese shop. This shop features cow and goat cheese made entirely by a local farm. It is a foodie’s paradise, with exquisite jams, crackers and cheese piled high on tables. FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT Myrtlewood Hunting Plantation is one lodge that offer fishing, skeet shooting, quail and white-tail deer hunting. These lodges aren’t just for the men. I tried my hand at skeet-shooting (the first time I’d ever shot a gun). Golfers will love the Glen Arven Country Club, one of the oldest golf clubs in the South. It was established in 1895 and has hosted many of the nation’s best golfers throughout the years, and luminaries such as then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. And finally, ladies, I have saved the best for last. There is a spa. Located downtown is Metta Day Spa, offering manicures, pedicures, facials and massages. So whether your feet are tired from shopping, your shoulder is stiff from shootin’ guns or your mind reeling from 150 years of plantation history, Metta will rejuvenate your spirit.

PEBBLE HILL PLANTATION

SWEET GRASS DAIRY CHEESE SHOP

BLACK HISTORY MUSEUM

RUFUS SMITH HOUSE BAY LIFE

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Jean Trips

TALLAHASSEE A Capital Adventure is Just a Short Drive Away

Tallahassee

A HOTEL DUVAL

FLORIDA CAPITOL

TALLAHASSEE MUSEUM

FSU FOOTBALL 64

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s Florida’s capital, Tallahassee is home to many one-of-a-kind places that should definitely be visited by all those interested in the history and politics of their home state. A great jumping-off point for a Tallahassee getaway adventure is downtown, where many sights are within easy walking distance. Consider staying at one of downtown’s unique boutique hotels. Choose from the traditional elegance of The Governor’s Inn, the retro pizzazz of Hotel Duval (its rooftop bar offers a panoramic view of the city and spectacular sunsets) or the energetic urban chic of downtown’s newest hotel, the Aloft. In addition to an electric modern décor and a swimming pool heated to a comfy 85 degrees year round, the Aloft is pet friendly, with bowls of water and dog biscuits at the front door. To get in a “capital” frame of mind, consider a sunset guided tour hosted by Tours In Tallahassee. You’ll get an introduction to the city’s early beginnings as a frontier town during a leisurely stroll along downtown’s Chain of Parks, which used to be a wide-open space around the city to help fend off Indian attackers. The parks are home to shade trees now and on Saturday mornings, they host a Downtown Marketplace with artists, entertainment and a Farmer’s Market. DINING OUT If you’re hungry after your tour, refreshment is just a few steps away at Avenue Eat & Drink. This restaurant offers a sophisticated take on Southern cooking, with a commitment to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. It’s quite possible to enjoy an entire week of dinners in Tallahassee at locally owned restaurants, each with a unique style and menu. OUR CAPITAL’S CAPITOL No matter where you are downtown, it’s hard to miss the 22-story Capitol building. Although it’s pushing 40, the tall, modern tower is still called the “new” Capitol by locals and the building is open to visitors on weekdays. The offices of Gov. Rick Scott are here, as well as the House and Senate chambers. The observation deck on the top floor gives you a 360-degree view of the

city. Some say on clear days, you can see all the way to the coast. In front of the new Capitol is the “old,” more traditionally styled domed version with candy-striped awnings, known today as the Florida Historic Capitol. It’s a museum (admission is free) now, with recreations of the historic House, Senate and Supreme Court chambers, as well as several permanent exhibits relating to Florida’s political past — including one dedicated to the 2000 presidential recount. INDOOR/OUTDOOR EXHIBITS The Museum of Florida History is just a couple blocks west of the Capitol in the R.A. Gray building, which also houses the state library and archives. Also in the downtown area is Kleman Plaza, home to two of the family-friendliest venues in town, the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science and the Challenger Learning Center. The Brogan has wonderful permanent interactive hands-on activities for children — including pulleys, gears and levers, brain games, a real T-rex bone, touch tanks and a functioning beehive — as well as an ever-changing array of science and art exhibits. The Challenger Center includes a planetarium, 3-D IMAX theater and a space mission simulator. Hop in the car for a short ride and have a wild time at the Tallahassee Museum. While there are interesting indoor exhibits, much of the enjoyment here is found outside. A short trail takes you to the habitats of Florida animals, including alligators, deer, playful otters, bobcats, birds of prey (including a very friendly, but exceedingly ugly vulture), black bears and some rare, endangered creatures — Florida panthers and Red Wolves. GO ’NOLES If FSU football is your main attraction, there’s plenty to be sure to look at the sculptures around the stadium and visit the displays of Seminole athletic achievements — including the 1993 and 1999 national football championship trophies — at the Moore Athletic Center. The university has also mapped out “Legacy Walks” that provide a self-guided tour of sites of interest around the beautiful urban campus.

HOTEL DUVAL PHOTO COURTESY LAWRENCE DAVIDSON; FLORIDA CAPITOL & TALLAHASSEE MUSEUM PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT HOLSTEIN; FSU FOOTBALL PHOTO COURTESY NIKKI RITCHER

BY ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER


GetJoin In… Renew the…Game: theGame: Volunteer!

Call: (850) 644-3484 Visit: Seminole-Boosters.com

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Habitat

GREEN WITH ENVY How You, Too, Can be King of the Grass by LIS KING

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re you yard-obsessed, jogging jealously past your neighbors’ lush gardens? Then you’re not alone. Floridians love their yards, even more so than the rest of the country, according to the National Gardening Association, and that’s saying a lot now that gardening has become America’s No. 1 hobby. “It’s because of our weather,” comments Jerry Matthews, who owns Garden of Eden Landscaping in Lynn Haven, “It encourages us to spend lots of time outside, so our gardens are important to us.” This is a good thing, right? Well, not always. Realtors complain that some homeowners — especially those who moved here from cold regions — are so enamored by their pleasant new climate that they overwhelm their yards. Jock Angelle of Bay Landscape & Palm Service, Panama City Beach, agrees. “Some people put in so many shrubs, so many flowers, that 66

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the yard becomes cluttered and looks smaller. I believe that every landscape should have some lawn. It creates balance and pleases the eye.” pLaNNINg MaTTers “I always ask the homeowners what kind of a garden they see in their minds,” tells Matthews. “But many times that’s not what suits their property or lifestyle. Once they’ve answered key questions about the way they’ll use the yard, a different vision may emerge. Will they entertain out there? Do they need a lawn for the kids to play on? What plants do they like? And how much maintenance can they put up with? Once we have those answers, we can go ahead and plan a garden they’ll love and that makes sense.” Local landscapers say there are many mistakes that can be made, but they seem to find one point especially prickly.


“Homeowners buy plants without knowing their growth habits,” says Angelle. “They should pick plants that grow only to the size they want them. If they need a fivefoot-high screening between their yard and the neighbor’s, they shouldn’t put in something that grows 10 feet high. It’ll have to be chopped back all the time.” Angelle lists other considerations, such as planting a shade tree in the right place, the view of the garden from the house, the correct mixture of color and texture, and, of course, curb appeal. Beyond the greenery there are special features, from fencing to fountains, to fit into the landscape plan. Designing a garden is similar to designing an interior, insists Angelle. “Think of a tree or a shrub the way you would a chair or sofa in a room” he explains. “Think of

a lawn as the rug and flowers, vines and groundcovers as accessories. It’s all in the layering. That’s what gives you the finished product.” Yard Makeovers Giving a tired or overgrown yard a new look is a challenge that Matthews and Angelle cherish. One frequent makeover involves the area between a pool enclosure and a privacy fence. “It’s usually neglected and an eyesore,” says Matthews. “Recently, I revamped precisely such a strip with palms, bird of paradise, bougainvillea, that sort of thing. The homeowner was thrilled.” Angelle goes into an investigative mode when he’s asked to work on an old garden or lawn. That’s no surprise. Before becoming

Luke Preslaski’s partner in the Panama City Beach landscaping firm, he was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force and earned a degree in criminology. After much success as a landscape designer, he now heads up the firm’s maintenance division. “When you take over an old garden, you have to assess,” he says. “Why doesn’t this yard look right? Why is that shrub sickly? What’s the matter with that lawn? There are infinite variables, so I become a detective. I figure out what was originally planned, pull soil samples to go to the lab, evaluate the irrigation system and what was done chemically in the past. Only after such assessments can you make a yard better. And once it’s in shape, it has to be maintained. Only proper maintenance can keep a design consistent.”

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Habitat Brave New Lawn The lawn is the most changed area in today’s yard. Tired of high water bills, mowing every week and a schedule of fertilizing and weed control applications, homeowners are taking a good look at new garden strategies. Xeriscaping, a term based on the Greek word for ‘dry,’ is one of those strategies, according to Eddie Powell, the University of Florida’s horticultural expert in Walton County. “Many xeric principles are simply common sense,” he explains. “For example, it uses native plant materials rather than exotic imports. The colors and textures of indigenous vines, shrubs and perennial flowers are played up, and there are many types of grasses, some of them drought-resistant. So even if you’re conservation-minded, you needn’t forego a lawn.” Florida-friendly grasses St. Augustine grass, the most widely used in Florida, is the closest the state can come to a native grass, says Powell. Believed to be indigenous to the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, it produces a blue-green dense turf that has

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good salt and shade tolerance. However, it needs a lot of fertilizers and water, doesn’t wear well and generally doesn’t stay green throughout the winter months. Luckily, homeowners along the Emerald Coast have the option of Centipede grass, which requires a lot less water, fertilizers and maintenance. This grass, which is only adapted for Northern Florida, grows best in acidic, sandy soils that don’t retain water, and it survives dry spells well. On the flipside, it’s not as nicely green as St. Augustine grass. Bahia grass is the third variety most often seen in Emerald Coast gardens. Powell says it’s drought-tolerant and handles itself well in infertile, sandy soils. But its leaf texture is coarse and a Bahia lawn provides less cushioning than other species. Improved varieties of Bermuda grass are what you see on golf courses and high-profile commercial and residential landscapes that call for a fine-textured, dense turf, but they are extremely high-maintenance. Common Bermuda grass, on the other hand, handles wear, drought and salt so well that it’s used in roadside landscaping. Angelle admits that he prefers Bermuda grass to all others. “I can do anything with it, even make it dance,” he jokes. Is your garden shady? “Then you’ll have a lawn problem, even if it’s the St. Augustine variety,” notes Powell. “A good lawn requires six to seven hours of sunlight, so get an arborist to thin out trees and shrubs, or extend beds out from the trunk of trees.” The Right Landscaper There are a lot of landscaping services, but if you’ve decided you want someone who doesn’t just arrive with a machine and spends 15 minutes charging around your lawn, you need to do some homework. Instead of just opening the phone book and signing a contract with the first company listed, interview a few firms. Remember, not every lawn care service offers the same services, certifications and professionalism. Angelle suggests that you get references from each company you’re considering and go look at the gardens they’re taking care of. Also make sure the service has business, liability and workers’ comp insurance, and ask whether they provide work beyond lawn care. Finally, ask to see the company’s portfolio. Study the pictures for their overall effects as well as clean edging and healthy plants. Make sure the firm gives proper notice before spraying chemicals, as you’ll want kids and pets out of the way. What is included in a visit? Will the landscaper just mow and blow, or will he also prune, fertilize, etc.? Get it all in writing. n

ON THE MOVE WITH …

Jan Lambert

850-381-3817

GRI | ABR | AHWD | CRS | SRES | CIPS Realtor® | Previews® Property Specialist jan.lambert@cbunited.com

Furniture • Accessories • Linens • Gifts

GEORGIAN INTERIORS Panama

City, Florida

850.769.7475 | GeorgianInteriors.com 131 Harrison Avenue in Downtown Panama City DESIGN SERVICES AVAILABLE

BAY LIFE

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fall 2011


first course: A Taste For ... Tailgate Foods

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n the South, fall means football, friends and food. Serve up some winning tailgate recipes this football season by letting your favorite team inspire your menu. Florida State University fans love to sink their teeth into boneless Buffalo wings with blue cheese dip. Ole Miss alums tackle their guests’ appetites with pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches, while LSU grads boast about their Cajun shrimp boil. University of Florida fans say a grilled flatbread pizza satisfies a multitude of tastes with its endless variety of toppings. University of Alabama devotees say boiled peanuts are a football party hit. “But we also love finger-licking ribs,” says ’Bama

fan Julie Turner, who picks up Dreamland ribs, a favorite in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to bring to her tailgate parties. If you can’t get to Dreamland, they will deliver to your doorstep. “And you must sop up the last drop of Dreamland’s famous barbecue sauce with white bread,” says Turner. Auburn Tiger alumna Brandy Barrett never attends a tailgate party without her “Mexicorn dip,” a Mexican corn dip served with tortilla chips or corn chips. “Whether watching the game at home or on campus at your tailgate, this Mexican corn dip is always a crowd pleaser,” Barrett says. — Wendy O. Dixon Photo by scott holstein

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Breakfast/Brunch... Lunch..................... Dinner.................... Takeout Available.. Outdoor Dining..... Live Music.............

Bar/Lounge........................... Reservations......................... Most Credit Cards Accepted.. Inexpensive..............................$ Moderately Expensive............$$ Expensive.............................$$$

diningguide Panama city Black Angus Restaurant and Lounge  $$ Steak & Seafood. Menu items such as coconut shrimp and roast prime rib. 4500 W. Hwy 98. Open Sun.–Mon. 4:30–9:30 p.m., Tues.–Thurs. 4:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 4:30–10:30 p.m. (850) 784-1788. $$ Gandy’s Oyster Bar Cajun Seafood. Enjoy the tastes of New Orleans with our jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, shrimp and all things Cajun. 3931 W. Hwy 390. Open Mon.-Thurs. 5-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. -8 p.m. (850) 271-2805. $ Kabob house Uzbek/Greek. Enjoy skewered chicken, beef, lamb and vegetables served with fresh pita bread. 1405C W. 15th St. Open Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m. (850) 481-1294. $ Willows british tea room English. Shepherd’s Pie and Apple Dapple Cake, or fresh pastries served with proper English tea, make for a perfect British experience. 461 Harrison Ave. Open Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. (850) 747-1004

Panama city beach Andy’s Flour Power Bakery Bakery and Sandwich Shop. Enjoy breakfast and lunch made with the freshest ingredients at this locally owned bakery/restaurant. 3123 Thomas Dr., (850) 230-0014. $$ Angelo’s Steak Pit  Steak & Seafood. Angelo’s is one of the few places in Panama City to serve meats cooked over an open hickory pit. 9527 Front Beach Road. Open Mon–Sun. 4 p.m.–10 p.m. (850) 234-2531. $$ Bishop’s Family Buffet Seafood Buffet. Shrimp, crab legs and a 38-item salad bar. 12628 Front Beach Road. Open Mon.–Sun. Breakfast 8–10:30 a.m. Lunch 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Dinner 3:30–9 p.m. (850) 234-6457. $$ Boatyard  American. Try Conch Fritters with Hot Pepper Jelly and Wasabi Mayonnaise or their creamy Key Lime Pie on a Stick. 5323 North Lagoon Drive. Open 11 a.m. daily. (850) 249-YARD (9273). $$ Breakers American. Casual gulf-front dining with live entertainment Thurs.-Sat. Dine on the beach, stay for the show! 12627 Front Beach Rd. Open daily 5 p.m. (850) 2346060. Calypso Beach Café $$ and Sports Grill Caribbean Creole. Appetizers, steaks, soups and salads, fresh from the Gulf seafood, and award-winning desserts. Lunch and dinner: open 11 a.m. daily. 15812 Front Beach Road. (850) 234-6788. Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant $$$ & Waterfront Market Seafood. A Gulf Coast legend serving more fresh seafood than any other restaurant in Florida, this landmark award-winning restaurant has been dazzling seafood lovers for more than 44 years. Open 4:30 p.m. Mon–Fri. 4 p.m. Sat., closed Sun. 5551 N. Lagoon Dr. (850) 234-2225. $$$ Dirty Dick’s Crab House  Seafood. The only serious thing here is the food, Dirty Dick’s makes all soups, sauces and salad dressings inhouse daily. Although Dick’s offers a variety of seafood dishes, the star of its menu is the crab. 9800 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach. Open 11  a.m.–9 p.m. daily. (850) 230-DICK (3425). $$ firefLY Steak & Seafood. Enjoy fresh seafood and top quality steaks under the full-scale indoor oak tree or sip cocktails in the library lounge. 535 Beckrich Road. Open Mon.–Sun. 5 p.m.(850) 249-3359. 72

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Hofbrau Beer Garden $$ German. This Munich-style beer hall serves an assortment of imported beers and German festival foods. 701 S. Pier Park Dr. Open Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat. 11 a.m.– 2 p.m. (850) 235-4632. Lady Anderson Dining Yacht Dinner/Dance  $$$ Seafood & Steak. Indulge in the shrimp and prime rib buffet while dancing in the middle of St. Andrews Bay. 3400 Pasadena Ave. South. Open Wed., Fri., Sat., Board 6:30 p.m. Cruise 7–9:30 p.m. (850) 234-5940. Jazmine Thai cuisine  $$ Thai. Offering authentic Thai fare, Jazmine’s serves Paad Thai, sushi and Thai desserts. 2629 Thomas Drive. Open daily 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. (850) 249-2010. Los Antojitos  $$ Mexican. This family-owned restaurant has been serving Panama City diners delicious Mexican dishes for over 30 years. 4809 W Highway 98. Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m. (850) 784-6633. Margaritaville  $$ Caribbean. Here you can order jambalaya, coconut shrimp and other taste-tempting entrées, like the Cheeseburger in Paradise. 16230 Front Beach Road at Pier Park. Open 11 a.m.–2 a.m. (850) 235-7870 Montego Bay Seafood House $$ Seafood & Steak. Try the Captain’s Catch grilled, fried, seasoned with lemon and pepper, or jerked. 4920 Thomas Dr. Open Mon.–Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (850) 234-8686. Edgewater location: 473 Beckrich Road. Open Mon.–Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. (850) 233-6033. THE Original j. Michael’s Dockside Bar and Grill  $$ Seafood & Steak. “Often imitated, never duplicated.” Enjoy the freshest seafood and perfect steaks in a charming boatyard setting. Stop in on your way to the beach for Cajun-inspired dishes like Grouper Creole. 3210 Thomas Drive. (850) 233-2055. Pineapple Willy’s  $$ Steak, Ribs & Seafood. Enjoy the beachfront view while sipping a drink from their outdoor bar. 9875 South Thomas Dr. Open Mon.–Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (850) 235-1225. Saltwater Grill $$ Seafood. A house favorite, the black and white tuna is accompanied by a piano player and a 25,000-gallon aquarium. 11040 Middle Beach Road. Open Mon.–Sun. 4–10 p.m. (850) 230-2739. Schooner’s $$ Seafood & Burgers. Known for fresh seafood. Enjoy local entertainment on Monday nights. 5121 Thomas Dr. Open Mon. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Tues.–Wed. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.,Thurs. 11 a.m.–11:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11–1 a.m. Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. (850) 235-3555. Shan Kishi $ Japanese Fusion & Sushi Bar. Featuring Sushi Chef Yakoo, this new restaurant offers Japanese “fusion” cuisine in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. 13800 Panama City Beach Pkwy. (850) 249-3663. Shane’s rib shack $ Barbecue. Enjoy barbecued ribs and wings with all the fixings. Party platters also available. 10100 Hutchison Blvd. Open daily 11a.m.–9 p.m. (850) 249-8111. Shrimp Boat $$ Seafood and Steaks. Admire the ocean view as you enjoy a plate of coconut shrimp or St. Andrews Bay Crab Cake. 1201 Beck Ave. in St. Andrews. Open daily at 4:30 p.m. (850) 785-8706. Shuckums $ Seafood & Burgers. Featuring the best oysters, crab cakes, burgers and more. Shuckums is the place to be seen for family fun. 15614 Front Beach Rd. Open 7 days, 11 a.m. ’til we can’t shuck’em anymore! (850) 235-3214. Siesta Bar & Grill at Hombre Golf Club $$ Casual Fare/American. With its spectacular panoramic view, the Siesta Bar & Grill overlooks the natural beauty of the golf course. Relax outside on the terrace with your favorite beverage from their fully stocked bar. Open 7 a.m. ’til dusk. 120 Coyote Pass, Panama City Beach. (850) 234-3673. tony’s taste of ybor city $ Spanish-Cuban-Italian. Inspired by Tampa’s Latin Quarter, Tony’s Taste offers a harmonious blend of three cultures with its cuisine. 8100 Thomas Drive. Open Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (850) 230-3840. n Bay Life

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The Last Word

BECOMING MOM

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ere’s my confession: I wasn’t much of a babysitter. Dependable, responsible and punctual? Absolutely. But my thoughts on babysitting differed greatly from that of my charges, their parents and even my peers. While my girlfriends prattled on tenderly about the little ones they watched, I rolled my eyes. To me, babysitting was all business, baby. I was the mean babysitter who put kids down to bed on time. Who threatened to call parents when the noise level hit seven. I had no interest in kiddie crafts, playing board games or being their party clown. It wasn’t that I hated kids, I just didn’t much care for them. My job was to sit and watch, to keep the kids safe and the house from burning down. For a pre-negotiated fee. While I did my homework. As a young adult, I continued my apathy toward toddlers and young children. I wouldn’t let hostesses seat me next to potential screamers in restaurants. Christmas cards featuring smiling, gaptoothed six-year-olds did nothing for me. Some people don’t visit friends with bad dogs. I didn’t visit friends with bad kids. Then I got married — and pregnant. And like the Grinch’s Christmas awakening, I felt my own heart grow three sizes that day. When you slip on a new pair of glasses that you’ve needed badly for a good year, a crisp awareness suddenly presents itself. Incredibly, cute and engaging children were everywhere and I couldn’t wait for my own. And now, two boys and many years later, I am a completely different woman. With motherhood, I found the ability to forgive and even laugh at ridiculous unruliness. As little ones, my sons destroyed public restrooms. (We are so sorry, downtown library.) Cried in the grocery store. Stripped at the beach. Built 6-foot catapults in our backyard. And, along the way, generated a tremendous amount of joy in my heart. The warmth and love I felt for my own boys grew exponentially over the years and I found myself compelled to save all lost and naughty boys. The young girl who didn’t like kids became a young woman who volunteered with the Junior League, taking charge of several programs to benefit children in our area. Who would have thought? 74

FALL 2011

BY LISA CAREY

Today I happily run the “Kool-Aid house” — that house in your neighborhood where the kids tend to gather. You’ll recognize it by the beat-up basketball hoop at the curb, the pile of shoes on the front porch and the bikes strewn across the front yard. At any given time, I can find three kids on the couch watching TV, three upstairs playing video games and a few in the backyard. And only two of them will be mine. Sometimes I don’t know where they all come from, but I am oddly fond of every one. I keep a basket of snacks on the kitchen table and a drawer in the refrigerator filled with juice boxes and cheese sticks. Kids help themselves and I feel a generosity toward these children that I never could have imagined. Parents call at dinnertime, looking for their kids, laughing and asking if their sons have already eaten with us. Kids cruise our house on Saturday mornings, scouting doughnuts and bumming rides to soccer games. There are occasional transgressions that challenge my caring heart, but very few boys make it to my No Way List. As in, “Mom, can Richard come over?” No way. Bullying, anything mean-spirited or sneaking your girlfriend in will get you on The List. Spills, acts of pure stupidity and bad pre-teen jokes are overlooked. House rules for our visitors include good bathroom etiquette, no food upstairs and checking “the pile” on the way out. There are always stray shoes, jerseys and books by our front door. Motherhood has taught me that clear boundaries, plenty of laundry detergent and a tolerant spirit go a long way. There is an American Indian prayer from the Ute tribe that asks for different virtues — “Earth, teach me caring,” for example — as mothers nurture their young. The opportunity to exercise great patience and tolerance with my children each day has been challenging, but I believe it has made me a better and kinder woman. I know the depth of my humor and my capacity to love has grown. Today when I cross paths with a frazzled mom and her trainflinging toddler in the bookstore, they both get a smile and a wink from me. Been there, loved that. ■

ILLUSTRATION BY MARC L. THOMAS

From Reluctant Sitter to Keeper of the ‘Kool-Aid’ House


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