FREE Food and Fun at Pier Park this Saturday 11/3

Instead of asking what is going on this weekend…..maybe the question should be what is NOT going on this weekend?

Panama City Beach and her surrounding areas are growing and so is the list of things to do!  The exciting part is that list of events is growing more diverse, from fitness to funky to family fun like this weekend’s Fall Festival at Pier Park.  The Fall Festival is an annual event of Woodlawn United Methodist Church, this year marking the fourth year it is at Pier Park.

The event is open to the public and is at no cost to participants, with all food, games and treats like kettle corn, cotton candy and more for FREE.  Participants will also enjoy LIVE MUSIC and prizes.

Woodlawn UMC like many of the churches in our area, emphasizes service to their community, so the fall festival is just another way to give back.

Woodlawn hopes area families will take advantage of this FREE event and enjoy a few hours of fellowship and games with their loved ones.  The event is Saturday, November 3rd from 10 am to 2 pm.

The church can be reached at 850-234-3196 or you may visit their Facebook page.

 

 

Walk This Saturday….discover the UPS of DOWNS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever met anyone with Down Syndrome? If it wasn’t for the work of the Special Olympics or the warm-hearted cheerleader on GLEE would you even know what it looked like?

I think many of us would agree that fear comes from the unknown and being in small town USA, we are insulated from a lot of unknowns, like genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, we don’t understand.

But did you know here in Bay County there are as many as 7 new families with children born with Down Syndrome?
On a national level one in every 733 babies in the United States is born with it, making it the most common genetic condition. About 6,000 babies are born with Down’s in the U.S every year.

But how would you know that? I didn’t until I spoke to a couple mother’s whose lives were affected….for the better, by the way. One woman, Shannon, whose family frequently visits our beaches, and hopes to call it home some day, shared with me about her experience very candidly.

 

 

Shannon’s son Lucas on our Beaches

 

After giving birth she looked at her baby Lucas, who is now the absolute light unto her path, and she knew before the doctor told her. She was terrified, she broke down into a “crying, snotty mess” she said. She realized that as a mother, one of her primal fears were ignited, something was “wrong” with her baby. But “wrong” turned out to be just “right” and the biggest blessing of her and her husband’s lifetime.

After the hormonal rush of pregnancy had subsided and she was able to reflect on her gutteral reaction she concluded most of her horror was based on pure ignorance. She had never met anyone with Down Syndrome before, she didn’t know anything about it, how was she going to take care of our baby? Isn’t that every mother’s fear that we will not somehow be equipped, i.e, good enough to take care of our children?

As I spoke with Shannon and she shared her story, her candor touched me, I thanked her for it. She simply said…”you know, your story is your story.”

Those words hit me in the face and I hope they leave a mark on yours. Your story is your story and it can be as sad or scary or beautiful as you want it to be. But before it is written, when it is still in the beginning and you don’t know what is going to happen…it can be pretty scary.

But it doesn’t have to be, you can reach out and find people to talk to, learn more about Aspergers and Autism and Down Syndrome and all of those things that terrify us because we don’t know any better. For Shannon, she read the blog by Kelle Hampton, a mother she not only connected to, but made her realize what an amazing gift she had been given.

Thankfully there are organizations that raise awareness of these issues that affect so many of new mother’s today.  October happens to be Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

If you want to learn more about Down Syndrome and have a fun, family friendly day outside, you are in luck for this Saturday, October 20th is the Annual Buddy Walk put on by Acton Up with Downs at Aaron Bessant Park next to Pier Park.

There will be lots to do at this event..Music…Food..
Children’s games and crafts…entertainment for all!
Dr. Shane of WPAP will be the MC and the Parrots Club will play music. Prosperity Bank will be keep our bellies full with hot dogs and hamburgers for all.

To find out more about this event, go to http://www.actonupwithdowns.org/ or just show up at Aaron Bessant Park this Saturday, October 20th at 9 am.

As one local parent put it….”Come out and learn more about people with Down Syndrome…and find out that we are all more alike than different.”

New Walmart Starts Construction

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

The new Walmart being installed next to Pier Park has begun construction as of yesterday.  Located right next door to Target, across from Powell Adams Road, an official “designation” is still unclear, but it’s certain to have grocery.  We recently discussed the site plans that were clear that it would not only include grocery, but a full bakery section, deli (with display coolers), fresh produce, garden center, and other general areas you’d expect to find in a Walmart.

We do know that this Walmart will be 156,000 square feet, which is 70% of the size of the Super Walmart to the east of this one.

What they’ll be doing first.

In preparation for the general construction, they’ve got to level out the land and get everything ready for the giant slab that we’ll walk on as we shop for the next umpteen years.  If you remember, there is a huge sand hill that’s been there for years, capturing the tires of renegade wannabe off-roaders that have bravely attempted to traverse it’s heights.  Yes, even my own brother got stuck in that hill, before he had four wheel drive.

They’ll be putting up perimeter fencing to help protect our eyes from the menacing construction equipment and keep the kids out and installing a central construction trailer to manage day to day operations.

Construction timeline and property details.

At this point, the construction timeline is still projected to be right at 12 months.  I would think they would want to get this done by next spring season, or at the latest, next summer season.  We’ll keep an eye on things as it progresses.

There will be out parcels along Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road), three entry points on Powell Adams Road and one entry point on Back Beach Road.

Powell Adams Road improvements.

One of the more controversial elements to this development, interestingly enough, has been the improvements to Powell Adams Road.  Many of the Walmart Opposition Party have contended that if something goes in that requires improvements to the road, they should have to pay for it, not the taxpayer.

Powell Adams Road is on the schedule for the CRA improvement treatment plan in the next couple years, and the Walmart development has put these improvements on the fast track.  The cool thing about this is that the City was going to fund this entirely, originally, and it wasn’t going to happen for at least 2 more years.  But, since Walmart is coming, and the improvements are needed in order to meet the requirements that will come with the increased traffic, Walmart is partially funding this improvement project.

The improvements will be on Powell Adams Road and go back to LC Hilton Drive (the road you can take to Miracle Strip and the center round about.

Why Walmart paying just a portion is more than fair.

The way this was explained to me was that Walmart is paying for the improvements that they would need and the City is paying for the improvements that are above and beyond that which would bring them up to the CRA standards (think curbs, sidewalks, decorative street lighting, and landscaping).

You see, if Walmart put in the baseline improvements that were needed in order to accomodate the traffic increase that would come with it’s development, we’d get signalization and a wider road out of the deal, at no cost.  But the beautification that comes with the CRA treatment would not happen, and the potential cost down the road when the City got to this portion of the improvement schedule would be proportionally higher.

BUT, by just “charging” Walmart the cost is would be for the improvements they need to make, and the City paying for the other improvement elements that come with the normal CRA improvements, we save money (because we’re not paying for the baseline improvements) and we get the beautification much earlier than expected (literally by years).

So, in my eyes, it’s a win-win.  What do you think? Comment below. 😉

 

Run to Rum Runners in Pier Park

Fun is Contagious at the new Rum Runners in Panama City Beaches’ Pier Park. If you walk out of the Grand Theatre and turn right, you’ll see it on the corner in the space previously occupied by Tuscany Italian Grill and Guglielmo’s. When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by friendly faces that invite you in with a smile and a warmth that fits right in with the tropical décor.

In fact, Vincent Wood the same artist that designed the scenes for the Sandestin Resort location also brought his iconic tropical designs to the new Pier Park location. The artwork is fun and festive and complimentary to the tiki hut roof over the bar. The suspended surfboards and Hawaiian printed shirts make you feel like it is definitely five o’clock somewhere….and most likely somewhere on a beach.

Karen Smith (aka My Mom) who is always ready for adventure, and me – always ready for a good meal 🙂 – decided to pay this new hot spot a visit. Our server, Jonathon, was friendly and knowledgeable and had nothing but good things to say about his job.

“They make it fun here. It is not just about getting the food out, it’s about making sure our customers have a good time.” He told us both we needed to come back after 8 pm for the dueling piano players. Rum Runners is known for their great entertainment. And the fun is not just for the vacationers, many locals enjoy the casual atmosphere and seven-day-a-week music acts that both encourage audience participation and expand over a variety of genres.

When we asked what we should order, he pointed us to some of the favorites on the menu like the Hurricane Burger and the Lobster Bisque. I opted for a small fresh salad and the appetizer portion of their famous Ahi Ahi Tuna with Wakame, which was delicious. The portions were generous, and the presentations attractive, at least until we devoured them! We drank sweet tea, but at night, the creativity of Rum Runners bartenders attracts many. Many of these “mixologists” have their own unique special creations, but like in Sandestin, the two most popular crowd pleaser drinks are the classic Rum Runner and the Calypso Punch.

Before you run to Rum Runners, run and find them on Facebook. Then run and get you some of that Ahi Ahi Tuna!

A total list of Pier Park Restaurants

Updated 3/22/12

Pier Park has, in just 4 years, become one of the most iconic landmarks to grace the shores of Northwest Florida.  Literally hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) visit this destination annually and Pier Park’s popularity is evidenced by the crowded sidewalks, shops and restaurants all year long.  The variety of creative gathering spaces, alcoves and fun places to shop, paired with beachy architecture make Pier Park, well fun!

This is an old post (literally 4 years to the day), but we’re republishing it because we’re updating it.  Since this was originally published in March of 2008, new places have been added and some places just didn’t make it.

Restaurants

Order at the counter

Order via wait staff

Places with food
  • Candymaker Candy Stores
  • Great American Cookie Co.
  • Kilwin’s Chocolate
  • Marble Slab Creamery
  • Popcorn Kingdom
  • Smoothie King
  • Starbucks

Miracle Strip Adds New Ride: Sea Dragon!

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

In keeping with the tradition of adding tasteful rides to the growing amusement area in Pier Park, Miracle Strip @ Pier Park has added another ride.  This comes after a winter of planning and reorganizing the whole park, shifting the Red Baron Plane ride to the other side of the park and moving the Tilt a Whirl over.  The Sea Dragon is on the far east side of the property with a decorative fence behind it.

The Sea Dragon

One of the few rides I can actually ride at Miracle Strip without feeling my stomach in my throat is the Sea Dragon.  The spin rides really do me wrong – but my kids love them – however, vertical and horizontal acceleration rides do me very right.

This type of ride allows a small amount of air-time for those riders sitting in the very back as the ride swings back and forth, over and over.

A total list of all the rides at Miracle Strip @ Pier Park

Along with the addition of the Sea Dragon, they’ve changed some things around and added some ancillary fun for the kids as well. On the south side of the property, they added a huge bounce pillow (parent friendly) and near the entrance, they’re working on a kiddie train area where the little ones can navigate the rails on their own.

Here is a complete list of their rides and attractions.

  • Tilt a Whirl
  • Scrambler
  • Ferris Wheel
  • Carousel
  • Red Baron Planes
  • Balloon Race
  • Sea Dragon
  • Butterfly Pavilion
  • Bounce Pillow
  • Kiddie Train (under construction)
Pricing for admission, rides, day bands, etc.

They’ve really packed a lot of fun into Miracle Strip @ Pier Park – adding enough entertainment to keep the kids occupied for a couple hours.  The other thing that’s great for parents is that they’ve added fencing all around the park so there is only one point of entry and exit.  I for one can certainly appreciate this with my four little kids.

There are several ways to enjoy the fun.  Here is a breakdown of all the ticket pricing.

  • Single ticket pricing — $3.50 — each ride requires one ticket
  • Book of 10 tickets — $29
  • Single day arm band — $18 — includes unlimited rides for the full day for wearer
  • Season pass — $99 — unlimited access for the bearer, along with a “buddy” (basically good for 2 people)

For more information on Miracle Strip, visit their website and Like their Facebook page.

Waves of Fog Overtake Splash Resort, Pictures Go Viral

It’s a scene that’s seemingly common, something that JR Hott has seen many times when he’s flying his Panhandle Helicopter.  Meteorologically, it’s a pretty normal event,  but the result in these photos was captured just right, at just the right time.  Just a little later or a bit earlier, and these photos would have never happened.

Last Sunday, Hott went for a flight with his lead captain and fired off some very interesting pictures. The pictures seemed to capture waves of fog flowing over the gulf front condos in Panama City Beach, specifically, Celadon and Splash Resort and several others on the western end of Panama City Beach.

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

Hott said, reflecting on his thoughts before he posted the original image to his Facebook page, “Eh, these look pretty cool, I thought, maybe I’ll post them to my page. . .  When we started seeing the Likes and Shares come through, we were dumbfounded. . .  We never expected this.”

The pictures.
What’s really happening in the pictures.

As explained to me by the Panhandle Helicopter guys, when the air temperature, dew point and water temperature are all about the same, a fog is created.  Add a slight breeze from off the gulf and that fog will envelope the structures on the beach.  If it’s just a little too windy, the fog won’t form.

Meteorologist Dan Satterfield describes the process on his blog:

“Cool air offshore was very nearly at the saturation point, with a temperature near 20ºC and a dew point of about 19.5 degrees C. The air at this temperature can only hold a certain amount of water vapor, and how much it can hold depends heavily on the temperature. Drop the temperature, and it can no long hold as much water vapor, so some of it will condense out and a cloud will form.

“In this case, the air was cooled by lifting it about 50 meters over the top of the condos,” Satterfield continues. “A parcel of unsaturated air will cool when lifted at a rate of 1 degree C per 100 meters. In this case, it probably cooled about 0.5 degrees C, but that was all it took! On the back side of the condos, the air slowly sinks back down and warms at the same rate. As it warms the air can hold more water vapor and the cloud evaporates and disappears!”

The pictures were taken on Sunday, February 5 at 12:40 pm, and the main shots are picturing Celadon and Splash Resort with a variety of other resorts in the shot as well, including Tidewater, Tropic Winds, and Emerald Isle.

The virility of a picture.

Sure, there are talented people that have nailed the creation of viral content over and over, but a large part of creating viral content just really can’t be predicted.  A number of anomalies have to occur and fall into place just right to create that viral spread.

In this case, the photo was capturing something that happens on a regular basis, but the shot was captured from a vantage point that is not so regular. We see fog all the time, but we see it from the ground.  Seeing it from the air is very unique and rare, especially since helicopters can’t take off in foggy conditions.  However, with this situation, the fog was not impacting their landing/take-off location and they were able to get in the air.

The fog seems to be taking over the condos in massive waves, and everything blends together to create a neat, viral package.

So, just how viral is this?

Hott has said he’s literally seen his picture on sites around the world.  Spain, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, England, and Russia just to name a few.  The pictures have shown up on sites like weather.com, cnn.com, tntmagazine.com, huffingtonpost.com and news.discovery.com.  There is a YouTube video from CNN that has over a half million views.

Looking at the Facebook Insights, the original image has over 15,000 people who have interacted with it by either sharing, liking or commenting on it.  Bringing the analytics a little further, according to Facebook, the image as “reached” over 33,000 people.

Their Facebook page, last Saturday had just over 1,050 Likes. As of this post, they had just over 2,500 with over 3,500 people “talking about” them.

What are you thoughts on these pictures?