Usher in the holidays at Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park is coming to Navarre Beach!

I love this time of year, and I love that while our neighbors up north are shivering, we are celebrating comfortably in the park.

The annual Christmas in the Park festival marks the arrival of the season and is always a blast for locals and visitors alike. I mark it as the official beginning of decorating season for my household.

It all kicks off Dec. 1 with the Christmas Parade through town starting at 2 p.m. Festive floats with candy and other prizes will make their way through the streets, usually to the upbeat tunes of the holidays.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fire truck in the parade and will be available for free photos with children as soon as the parade ends.

The festivities take place in our lovely waterfront park where a plethora of activities await.

Reindeer games will challenge kiddos with potential prizes on the line. Booths featuring a variety of items will be on sale. Can you say checking off your Christmas shopping list?

Kids can also get their faces painted or have “Fair Hair.” Wild and fun, I highly recommend these kooky hair-dos.

Free baked goods and hot beverages will be available at Mrs. Claus’ Bakery as well. I’m a sucker for hot chocolate this time of year.
Christmas in the Park is really the ushering in of the Christmas season for Navarre Beach. We may not have snow in our slice of tropical paradise, but we definitely have Christmas spirit.

The celebration has that small-town holiday feel. Live entertainment, featuring local schools and choirs from the local area will start at 11 am and continue throughout the event.
The whole festival culminates in the lighting of our 20-foot-tall Christmas tree at 5 p.m.

Christmas time is a perfect time to soak up the sun and enjoy all that Navarre Beach has to offer, no bathing suit required.

Book your holiday escape today at

Delicious Dewey Destin’s open for business

Fresh seafood, sand between the toes and sun in the sky. I can’t think of a better day on the beach.

Navarre Beach’s newest restaurant is offering exactly that.

Dewey Destin’s opened their doors this month, and I am excited to see this regional favorite set up shop along our shores.

The Dewey Destin family has been sourcing straight from the Gulf of Mexico since the 1800s, and they have been serving it up for locals and visitors alike for more than a decade.

The new shop overlooks Santa Rosa Sound’s shimmering salt waters with powder white sands. Seating includes beach loungers, comfy deck seating and indoor seating with a warm feel. Visitors simply walk up to the counter to order. Fresh catch will be visible for folks to see for themselves, and a variety of local beers are on tap at the bar. Then you just find a seat and wait for them to bring the food to you.

I highly recommend if you want to taste a slice of true Navarre Beach.

When you come to the beach, seafood is just part of the expectation. And Navarre Beach has no shortage of delicious from-the-gulf seafood. Dewey Destin’s is just an ideal example.

If you are looking for a not so fishy local cuisine fix, here are a few of my personal favorites, all of which are locally owned and operated.

Looking for cuisine of the east? Try Samurai Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi.

Feeling laidback and wanting some Cajun-inspired fun? Broussard’s Bayou Grill on the beach offers a delicious menu.

Mexican more your thing? You can’t go wrong with lunch or dinner at El Patron Mexican Grill.

Want the romance and authenticity of Italy? Bella Luna Italian Bistro is run by a family that hails from the mother land, and they brought their culinary skills with them.

Come chow down with us here on beautiful Navarre Beach through

Explore Creek culture at annual Pow Wow

Pounding drums, colorful dancers and songs generations old, the Santa Rosa County Creek Tribe wows with their annual Pow Wow.

Part family reunion, part cultural exploration, part history lesson and part festival, the 28th Pow Wow did not disappoint. Just north of Navarre Beach, this annual celebration of our local Native American culture is always a favorite among visitors.

For Chief Tom “Blue Eyes” Nichols, this is a time when eight generations of his family are represented in one place.

“It is like a big family get-together. Really it is a celebration. We celebrate National Native American month with a big family reunion, and we invite the public to witness our culture, our heritage and our language,” he said.
There were dozens of booths selling Native American inspired items, typically handmade by members of the tribe or neighboring tribes.
Traditional foods such as roasted corn and Indian fry bread were also served. You have to try the bread. It’s delicious.
At the center of the festivities was traditional dancing where visitors could become part of the celebration. “Drumming of the Descendants” featured drummers playing traditional music with a pounding beat. Native American singers from throughout the U.S. also provided their talents to the event.

The festival is not only fun. It is about “keeping the fire” of the Creek tradition. By next year the tribe hopes to have their cultural center open where visitors will be able to view more than 3,000 Native American artifacts including 1,500-year-old pottery.

They will also be teaching the Muscogee language, a rarity in modern times. I never leave a tribe event without feeling more connected to the past and richer for the experience. In exploring ancient cultures, we gain knowledge beyond our own world view, peeking into the past while also gaining insight into the modern lives of our neighbors.

The Pow Wow offers this each year.

Did you miss this year’s Pow Wow? Plan a vacay for next year here on beautiful Navarre Beach at

True “water-man” protects Navarre Beach

Austin Turnbull is a true “water­man.”

He grew up splashing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, beginning to surf at the age of 4.

“I am a waterman. I know how to surf, swim, sail, fish. It is part of me. It is who I am. It is what I grew up doing,” he said.

He said he feels a connection to the beach that runs in his family. That connection evolved into a career protecting lives along the shore. And now he will be protecting lives on Navarre Beach.

Turnbull said his brother inspired him to become a lifeguard.

“I swam all through when I was a kid. My brother was a lifeguard when he turned 16, and I followed him to the beach every single day and sat at the tower with him or surfed or swam,” Turnbull said. “I did the junior lifeguard program in the morning then went to the beach with him every day.”

Sixteen years and several lives saved later, Turnbull has been selected as Navarre Beach’s new beach safety director to supervise the lifeguard program under Navarre Beach Fire Rescue.

Chief Danny Fureigh said Turnbull’s “waterman” nature was part of the rea­son he was chosen to fill the newly created position. The other reason was his impressive resume.

“He has extensive credentials and experience in the field,” Fureigh said. “We interviewed several people, but he had a passion that actually left us with a new vision of what this posi­tion could be. There is no question he was the right choice for the position.”

Turnbull’s resume includes 16 years of ocean lifeguard experience, including stints working on more crowded beaches.

Turnbull’s resume includes training under current United States Lifesaving Association President Peter Davis and certification as a firefighter paramedic.

Training for lifeguards under new standards will begin in February, he said. Turnbull said standards for beginning lifeguards will be stricter under his leadership.

“I want my community to know that when they come to the beach their family is safe and that the best lifeguards in the country are looking out for them,” Turnbull said. “And I know I can deliver that. I am only as good as they are.”

And guards are expected keep improving each year.

“To stay a lifeguard, you have to continue to get better,” Turnbull said.

He will also supervise a junior lifeguard program like the one he participated in all those years ago.

“We bring these kids in, and we show them an en­tire lifestyle that they might not have been able to be exposed to in the past. I am not just here to create life­guards,” he said. “I am here to create watermen that can read the water, understand the conditions and even the marine life.”

He also wants the public to know that he is invested in the safety of the beach as much as they are.

“My parents live here. My nephew swims the beach here. My girlfriend swims out here. I want the beach to be as safe for their family as it is for mine,” he said.