Registered members reach almost 600 after big sign-up

Jackie Roberson (left), Ann Haley and Becky Williamson sit backstage at the large listing as they prepare to enter membership data at Destin Snowbird Club on Monday January 3.
A constant stream of registrants passed through The Roost to sign up as members and experience all of the fun and exciting activities the Destin Snowbird Club had to offer.
Two past outgoing Presidents Ken Yee and George Olson are reunited beyond Pearly Gates and will be sadly missed by any snowbird who knew and loved them.

The wait for the “Big Registration” on Monday January 3 was extremely high. Would the COVID virus and its variants keep people away? Or would Florida being “open for business” attract a flock of newcomers? Initial registrations had declined by around 100 members and the board prepared for a smaller group than usual. Contributions were levied to provide coverage for such things as rent, insurance and entertainment. Would the higher fees be a factor?

As it turned out, both optimists and pessimists were right – and wrong! There was no line “at the door” like in previous years. No eruption of registrants overwhelming the workers. There was, however, a constant and steady stream of people flowing through the Roost. Almost 400 people have registered, bringing the total to nearly 600 members.

Our optimistic former President George Olson would have been delighted. Sadly, George passed away on December 23. He was elected to the board of directors in 2011 and

was club president for the 2013/2014 season. He continued to volunteer in several ways each year thereafter.

“Everyone knew George,” club secretary Cindy Varnell said. “No matter where he went, people were shouting, ‘Hi George!’ He sometimes felt bad because he didn’t know who they all were, but he had such a friendly face that everyone felt like he was their friend.

Cindy and Ray Varnell are the chairs of the TGIT (thank goodness it’s Tuesday) parties and the Holiday Boat Parade party, but George and his wife Barb handed them the keys to both events.

“In 2011, the board launched the TGIT Nights, and George, who was the second vice president at the time, became president,” Cindy said. “He did everything from securing the place to delivering all the snacks and drinks and everything in between.”

Cindy and Ray, along with Pete and Diane Sikkenga, stepped in to help and all of them continued to perfect the hugely popular event. “He was my mentor,” Cindy said. “He was patient and kind and very good at explaining what needed to be done and how to do it.”

George was also a member of the Registration Committee, the Host Committee and the Nominating Committee. Is it any wonder that so many snowbirds felt close to him? He and his warm and friendly smile will be sadly missed.

Some important reminders: Registration will take place at Roost (Destin Community Center) on Monday, January 10, from 10 a.m. to noon. Tuesday’s meetings at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.) will feature snowbird favorite David Hall. He is a singer whose repertoire knows no limits. He is also a master of keyboards and an awesome guitarist.

Hall will also entertain us from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Lulu’s, on Legendary Marina Drive, for the first TGIT party of the season. The cost is $ 5 at the door. Make sure to bring your membership badge to show at the door.

The Singles Friendship Club will meet for lunch at The Surf Hut, following Tuesday’s 11am meeting.

The first 18-hole golf outing will take place on Sunday January 16 at Regatta Bay. Contact Joe Pierce at for more information.

Storage lockers will be open for pickup on Saturdays, January 8, 15, and 22, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

As always, check the website,, for more up-to-date information.

Mary Pierce, Director of Advertising, is from Toledo, Ohio, and can be reached at 419-250-9377 or She will be writing the weekly newspaper column, so if you have something to share, contact her.