Pier Park Festivities Schedule for July 4th

Well, it’s almost here, the pinnacle event of every Panama City Beach summer – July 4th weekend.  This is a weekend when almost all of Panama City Beach is full to the brim with people from all over the southeast.  I’ve been here since 2001 but I can’t hardly remember what July 4th was like before Pier Park.  But now that we have it, they’ve held a huge event every year with closed off streets, bands playing, festivities and a huge fireworks show.

All events are taking place on Monday, July 4th at the times listed. Here’s the schedule:

Main Stage

2:00 – 7:00 pm

Enjoy live performances by Almost There, Anthony Orio & the Goodfellers provided by Tootsies Orchid Lounge, 98th Army Band “Crossfire”, and Southeast Navy Band “TGIF”.

9:30 pm

After the fireworks, stick around for a special live performance by Matt Mason.

Bookit.com Beach

2:00 – 5:00 pm

The whole family is invited to the Children’s Crafts & Games at BookIt.com Beach.

Aaron Bessant Park

7:30 pm

The Panama City POPS Orchestra salute our troops and veterans, playing all the great American classics at Aaron Bessant Park.

9:00 p.m.

Join us for a spectacular fireworks simulcast by Clear Channel.


Beach Bus Offers Free Rides Starting July 1

The Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is sponsoring free bus rides to tourists and locals alike starting July 1.  This recently released poster specifies three easy steps to ride:

  1. Spot the beach bus
  2. Wave to ride (hop on or off wherever you like)
  3. Flip-flop aboard

This free transportation pilot program is being funded by a Transportation Grant and will run from July 1 to September 5 – Labor Day weekend.  The route will travel on Front Beach Road from Walmart to the Visitor Information Center on Highway 79.

Here is the poster.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think this will be a big help to those trying to traverse our summer traffic-ridden area?  Or do you think the frequent stops will add to the congestion?  What do you think the rider experience will be like with people being able to request stops whenever/wherever?


New Walmart in PCB?

A recent traffic study indicates there might be a new Walmart coming to Panama City Beach.  The traffic study is said to be standard operating procedure when it comes to putting in a large retailer such as a Walmart.  The goal is to get a better understanding of the local traffic, the ingress and egress environment and get a first blush analysis of if this would actually work.

The site that the study is focused around is the parcel of land directly across Powell Adams road from the Pier Park Target.  The traffic study explores the addition of a light at that intersection and three full-access driveways.

The current Walmart is located at the crossroads of Front Beach Road, Middle Beach Road and South Thomas Drive. The current location has certainly become an epicenter, if you will, of tourism action.  When that Walmart was built, there was nothing around it.  Now, just to name a few items, there is a Ripley’s, Wonderworks, Walgreen’s, Backyard Burger, and tons of other places.

The existing location, according to public records, is 223,168 square foot.  The new proposed building would be approximately 156,000 square feet – roughly 70% of the size.

What are you thoughts on this?  Do you think this would boost the economical vitality of the west end / Pier Park area?  Do you think this could damage Target or make it stronger? Do you think this smaller store would have a produce section and finally bring some grocery aspect to a near Pier Park location?

Hands Across the Sand – Local Origins, Worldwide Impact

It was a hot and sunny day in Seaside, Florida. The sky was a brilliant
shade of blue and the beaches were bright white, hosting the most
beautiful Gulf water known to man…and that’s exactly the way Hands
Across the Sand supporters hope it remains.

Dave Rauschkolb started Hands Across the Sand, a movement seeking to
ban near-shore oil drilling around the world. It’s first peaceful
protest was in February of 2010. Little did he know that only two months
later, an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform would cause
the worst spill in US history.

Fourteen months after 205 million gallons of oil and 225,000 tons of
methane spilled in our Gulf, concerned beach lovers around the globe
joined hands today for the third attempt to send the message, “No to
Offshore Oil Drilling – Yes to Clean Energy initiatives”. The act of
holding a neighbor’s hand along their beloved coast for fifteen
minutes is meant to send a signal to leaders both local and around the
world that we need to think very carefully about our choices regarding
energy sources.

Although the turnout did not appear to be what it was at the last event which was
held only 8 weeks after the Deep Water Horizon disaster, those that were
there were as committed as ever to protecting our beaches.
Visit www.handsacrossthesand.com for more information. Here are some
photos from the event.

Russell Fields Pier adds 4 “Convenience” Booths

If you’ve driven by the Russell Field’s Pier in the last couple weeks you’ve probably noticed the four new huts that have gone up at the foot of the pier.  The original vision of the Russell Field’s included having a sprawling amenity area, a gather place for visitors to hang out, a place where you can enjoy the sunset and the warm summer breeze.  These new huts just add to the convenience of your beachy good times and help make your visit to the pier a little more enjoyable.

Beach Photos

The beach photo hut comes stocked with props and professional photographers that can escort you down to the beach for that perfect beach family portrait.  What better way to capture the moment then by posing in front of a high-resolution lens and saying cheese.  They have everything you need right there and when you’re done, they hand over a disc with your photos on it.  Easy.

They do one photo for $10 and each additional photo is $8.

Convenience Store

Left the sunscreen at home?  Need a new hat?  They’ve got you covered.  Here are some of the items you can find here.

  • Hair braids and wraps
  • Hemp necklaces and other beach jewelry
  • Lip balm
  • Sun screen
  • Shades – even those new HD ones
  • Tons of different hats – sun hats, ball caps, safari hats
  • Skim boards and boogie boards
  • Floaties – tubes, rafts, etc.
  • Beach toys – paddle ball, shovels, buckets, sand-molds, frisbees, etc.
  • Volley balls and footballs
  • Beach clothing – sarongs, cover-ups
  • Beach towels and umbrellas
  • Batteries
  • Snacks
  • Over the counter pain reliever
Airbrush Booth

Seriously, one of the best souvenirs to take home from your beach vacation is an airbrush t-shirt.  Airbrush shirts and Panama City Beach have been going hand in hand since the 70’s.

At the Airbrush Station at the foot of Russell Fields Pier they have tons of designs ready to be put on your shirt.  Or, if you’re feeling saucy, you can have a custom design commissioned just for you.

Shirts are $7 and the ready-made designs start at $10.

But, shirts are not the only thing they can airbrush.  There are tons of other options: hats, shells, license plates, bags, and even baby bibs!

Snack Shack

Not to compete with Hook’d, the Snack Shack has all the little things you wouldn’t expect to find in a restaurant:

  • Snowcones
  • Hot dogs (hot diggity dog, salty dog, slaw dog, surf dog)
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Cookies
  • Chips
  • Sodas
  • Ice cream
  • Pretzels

Murder “Rides Again” in PCB

As the sun sets over the water and boats head back to shore, there’s a group of cowboys digging up clues to find out who committed a murder in Texas – only it’s not really Texas and they’re not really cowboys. At the new Sherlock’s Mystery Dinner Theatre in Panama City Beach, talented local actors take to the stage to present a comedic murder mystery entitled “Murder Rides Again.”

When you arrive at Sherlock’s, located next to Captain Anderson’s on Grand Lagoon, various characters in Western wear start hootin’ and hollerin’ to escort you to your table – a table because this murder mystery includes a three-course dinner (prime rib or chicken cordon bleu by Chef Dee’s Catering). Guests are seated at rounds of six stocked with salads, rolls and beverages, and servers bring out a new course after each act. A cash bar is also available if you’re so inclined.

While you take your seat, Sherlock's Mystery Dinner Theatre stagecharacters weave their way through the tables, interacting with the audience and fellow cast members as a preview of the mystery to come. Don’t be surprised if a sheriff pretends to arrest you or a card shark plays 52-card pick up. In this show – one of many the company plans to produce – the action takes place in Miss Liddy’s Saloon, a bar lined with bottles of root beer, red-checkered card tables and barstools.

The drama begins after the first course. A murder has taken place just before the town’s much-anticipated chili cook-off, leaving an eclectic group of townsfolk – including a big-talking sheriff, his clown of a deputy, a gambler, saloon owner and schoolmarm – to start making accusations amongst themselves. The plot is murky at times, making the actual mystery a bit hard to follow, but the performances are enjoyable and the comedy well-timed. The most popular character of the evening tends to be the sheriff’s sidekick, a bumbling deputy who’s too honest for his own good.

The cast keeps the audience involved by randomly selecting guests to participate in different scenes, and again after the murder by answering questions from each table. Guests collaborate to ask a question of whichever character they choose. The actors respond to each, answering sometimes ridiculously off-topic questions (“how do you spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?”) with just-as-ridiculous answers – a highlight of the evening and a showcase of their quick wit. It’d be fun to see a longer improv segment as this is one of the night’s most well-received moments.

As the evening winds down, each guest writes down their accusations and what they believe to be the suspect’s motives. It feels like a real-life game of Clue. The audience’s feedback isn’t gathered before the final scene, but those who guess correctly receive a prize at the conclusion of the show. The three-hour experience comes to a close with dessert and the revealing of the murderer (who, of course, sticks around for a photo op along with the rest of the cast). Whodunit? Well, you’ll have to visit Sherlock’s to find out for yourself.

Sherlock’s plans to introduce other themes throughout the year, so keep an eye on their web site (dinneratsherlocks.com) for details. At $49.95 for adults and $44.95 for children 8 and up, the experience is a bit on the pricey side, but for a three-course dinner and unique entertainment it’s hard to top. Well-behaved kids above 8 are welcome but teens and adults are more likely to enjoy this show. Make your reservations by visiting dinneratsherlocks.com or by calling 850.230.0999.

Beat the Heat: PCB’s Indoor Attractions

When summer heats up and the beach isn’t enough, it’s hard to top air conditioning. Try one of these indoor attractions to beat the heat in PCB this season:

Emerald Coast Mirror Maze

Gear up and duke it out with family and friends in a game of pirate-themed laser tag, where it’s more challenging than you may think to avoid lasers and treasure chests and other people. There are more lasers to be had in Laser Craze, where you’ll dodge a field of neon beams (à la Ocean’s Twelve) in a race to beat your own score. There’s also a twisting mirror maze that incorporates sights and sounds to fool your senses as you try to make your way out. Located in Pier Park next to Buffalo Wild Wings. emeraldcoastmirrormaze.com, 850.230.6249.

Museum of Man in the Sea

Just west of Highway 79 you’ll find the Man in the Sea Museum, a tribute to the early days of diving and underwater activity. The 5,000-square foot museum on Back Beach Road houses recovered treasures, naval equipment, vehicles, habitats and a submarine you can climb in to explore. maninthesea.org, 850.235.4101.

Sherlock’s Mystery Dinner Theatre

Whodunit? The newly opened Sherlock’s on Grand Lagoon offers interactive murder mystery dinners where you’ll help solve the case. Murder Rides Again is the current theme, based on an “hilarious homicide” that takes place in the town of Tumbleweed, Texas. Join the townsfolk for an evening you won’t soon forget! dinneratsherlocks.com, 850.230.0999.


Go for the exhibits, stay for the ropes course. Of course, there’s also the strangest bike ride you’ll ever take – you and a partner pedal upside-down and around – a bed of nails and a life-sized piano, but by and far the best attraction inside this upside-down house is the three-story ropes course. Near Walmart on Front Beach Road. wonderworkspcb.com, 850.249.7000.

Rock’It Lanes

There’s no shortage of things to do at this sprawling entertainment center. Challenge your friends to a game of bowling (stay late to watch the lanes glow in the dark), take to the rink on a pair of skates, play pool or hit the arcade. On Richard Jackson Blvd in the Shoppes at Edgewater. rockitlanes.com, 850.249.2695.