Freezin’ for a reason on Navarre Beach

On Navarre Beach, we celebrate the New Year with a special tradition, one shared across the country.

We all gather on the chilly morning of Jan. 1 to party before plunging head long into the chilly waters of Santa Rosa Sound, en masse, at exactly 12 hours into the New Year.

It’s called the Penguin Plunge, and this is year 11 of the tradition.

Though it sounds crazy, its actually a blast! People wear costumes. There’s music, beach volleyball, food and a stand-up paddleboard adventure course. It’s a great opportunity for fun in the sun and sand during the oh-so-mild Florida winter.

Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors’ Grill, a community staple for Navarre Beach, hosts the fun each year, and I always make a point to come out to join in the festivities.

While the family-friendly party is great, it’s the reason for this celebration that makes it so special. Each year, this beach bar restaurant donates all the proceeds from the plunge to local nonprofits.

This year’s Penguin Plunge is supporting a cause close to my heart: suicide prevention.

So many of us have lost a loved one to suicide, and the folks at Juana’s recently suffered a similar loss. So, the proceeds from this year’s plunge will be donated to the local branch of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the EscaRosa Suicide Prevention Coalition and Healing Paws for Warriors.

Healing Paws is a phenomenal organization that trains rescue dogs to become service animals for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I can’t imagine a better way to ring in the New Year than with food and fun for a worthy cause.

Even if you’re too chicken to dive in yourself, you can still join in the fun as a “chicken” registrant and still receive a T-shirt. Folks can register at

Book your New Year’s vacation with us at

Five things to know: Vacation is good for you

Vacationing is good for your health. I know that seems like a no brainer, but here are a few reasons to kick back with your toes in the sand in 2020 that you might not have thought of.


  1. Reduce stress. According to the very smart people at the American Psychological Association, vacationing can reduce work stress. Again, I know you’re saying, well duh. But hear me out. It’s not just that we feel happier. Vacation actually reduces stress-induced health problems even after the vacation is over. These include headaches, backaches and heart irregularities.


  1. Good for the ol’ ticker. Multiple studies by heart health researchers found that men who have heart disease that vacation regularly can cut their risk of heart attack down by about a third AND significantly reduce their chances of dying from a heart related health issue. In other words, your heart loves the beach, too.


  1. Better sleep. When on vacation, we tend to forgo many of the bad habits that disrupt healthy sleep cycles. This can function as a great reset for your natural sleep pattern, meaning more restfulness.


  1. Decreasing depression. Researchers of both the Marsfield Clinic and the University of Pittsburg found a correlation between vacationing at least twice a year and reduction in depression. For those with mental health concerns, vacation and recreational activity may be an important part of treatment.


  1. Overwork=higher stroke risk. Sometimes it can be hard to see the real cost to our bodies of overworking ourselves, but there can be major consequences. For employees who spend too much time at work, stroke risk can go up by 33% (The Lancet). Not to be melodramatic, but vacation can save your life.


So, plan a vacation! Your body will thank you. Start reaping the health benefits by visiting

Three things to know: Holiday fun this weekend on Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of some community Christmas traditions this weekend, and families looking to get into the festive December spirit can make a safe bet on these events.


  1. Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk Fun Run

Kicking off the morning of fun will be the Navarre Beach Chamber Foundation’s Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk Fun Run. Starting at 8 a.m. Dec. 7, this fun and festive 5k will begin at the Holley-Navarre Fire Station at 8618 Esplanade Street behind McDonalds’s. Costumes are encouraged for this all ages run through the community. It’s always a blast and very low impact.

The first 200 registrants receive a long sleeve T-shirt.  There will be post-race refreshments and door prizes. A special prize will be awarded to the most festive participant. Download the registration form at


  1. Navarre Community Christmas Parade

The annual Navarre Community Christmas Parade will start at 2 p.m. at the Navarre Library and will roll south along Presidio Street, making a left at Esplanade Street and ending in the rear parking lot of Centennial Bank. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fire truck in the parade and will be available for photos with children as soon as the parade ends.

The chamber is accepting applications from any group, businesses, organizations or individuals that would like to participate in the Navarre Community Christmas Parade.  The cost to enter is $50 per entry. For a parade entry form, sponsorship opportunities, or general information regarding this holiday event log on to or call the chamber at 850-939-3267.

Families are encouraged to line up along the parade route to see festive floats, receive fun goodies and say hello to Santa and Mrs. Claus.


  1. Christmas in the Park

Celebrating its special 25 years anniversary, the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas in the Park, presented by Walmart Navarre and Walmart Neighborhood Market Navarre, will be Saturday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Navarre Park. The parade will end at this park celebration.

This year’s event includes a Merry Market where local arts and craft vendors will gather with great gift ideas for everyone on your list. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available immediately following the parade for pictures with the little ones. Visits are free and parents are invited to bring their cameras for photos.

Free baked goods and hot beverages will be available at Mrs. Claus’ Bakery.

Reindeer Games will begin at 11 a.m.  There will be ticketed games for children to play for prizes, as well as face painting, a cake walk and “fair hair.” I absolutely LOVE “fair hair.”

Live entertainment, featuring local schools and choirs from the area will continue throughout the event with beautiful renditions of Christmas classics.

The evening will be capped off with the lighting of the 20-foot Christmas tree, my personal indicator that Christmas is officially here.  The tree lighting will take place at approximately 5 p.m.


Come join the merry-making at