Weekend Events – Unique Christmas Shopping, Festival of Trees, Books, Arts, Parades and more!

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Looks like Panama City Beach is a fantastic place to kick off your holiday season! We’ve got a lot of unique gift shopping opportunities this weekend, a chance to run off some of that dressing from last week, “A Christmas Carol” as well as the inaugural Grand Lagoon Boat Parade! You don’t want to miss this – get all of your Christmas shopping done, relax, AND have a blast- all at the same time!
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7 Fancy Places to Dine in the Panama City Beach Area

Let’s face it – the majority of us are trying to save money these days and looking for a bargain or a great deal wherever we can find it. Every once in a while though, we like to splurge and to treat ourselves – perhaps a new outfit, a well needed getaway, or a special meal out. Perhaps you have an anniversary, a birthday or a romantic occasion coming up and want to show someone how much you care. Panama City Beach and the surrounding area offers the upscale diner many different choices where posh is always on the menu – here are a few of our favorites.

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New Grand Lagoon Bridge Ground Breaking

With gold shovels in hand and orange hard-hats protecting their heads from the deep blue skies, several big names from Panama City Beach, Bay County and the State of Florida broke ground on the construction of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge and its accompanying roadway on the north and south side of the structure.  Years in the planning, the Grand Lagoon Bridge was literally a pipe dream until just recently.  Today, in discussion with several people from the Friends of Grand Lagoon, I was told that for a long time, it wasn’t believed that it would ever happen.

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Grand Lagoon Bridge Ground Breaking Thursday

Bring your cameras and your congrats for the ground breaking ceremony of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge takes place Thursday morning at 10 am.  The weather is sure to be perfect and the future holds a higher bridge that will accept taller boats and more water under its spans.

In the works for quite some time now, the new Grand Lagoon Bridge finally got the green light when funding was secured over the summer.  With over $15 million in the bank the County Comission awarded the construction contract to C. W. Roberts Contracting, Inc.

The ground breaking takes place at 10 am sharp on October 1, 2009 at Captain Anderson’s Restaurant in the Captain’s Room.

Thomas Drive Mystery Solved!

img_7754If you’ve been curious about the huge new development on Thomas drive south of Magnolia and Winn Dixie, we’ve got you covered. But first, some back-story;

Over the last year, if you taken a drive down North Thomas Drive you’ve no doubt noticed major new developments beginning at the turn off Hathaway Bridge down to Grand Lagoon Bridge. You’ve seen more restaurants, banks, grocery stores and retail shopping centers added to the area community. Those updates may be but appetizers to a main-developmental-course. Stimulus money in the sum of $18.5 million and a combination of state and local funds, will be used to expand Grand Lagoon Bridge. The bridge will expand from 150ft to 250ft widening it from two lanes to four and increasing the height over water from 10 to 18ft.

For the last 18 months, planning has been taking place on the bridge expansion, but no funds had been earmarked leaving no definitive timeline for construction.  However, with funding tentatively secured, we should begin to see some timelines released.  The heightening will be a huge improvement as the current height has been historically limiting to the type and size of boat that property owners on the east side of Grand Lagoon could own.

Stimulus funds will also widen the adjacent North Lagoon feed into Thomas drive into a five-lane highway with room for bike-lanes and sidewalks down to Bristol Street. The area near Grand Lagoon has always been popular with locals, but the planned Grand Lagoon expansion may be an even greater pull for the tourism base as well, which brings us back to the original mystery.

That area being mowed down near Magnolia Beach Road and Winn Dixie is making room for a new restaurant. Another restaurant, whoop dee doo, right? Well, the type of restaurant and the space being allotted for it may surprise you. The huge area is making way for Jasmine Thai Restaurant. This isn’t big news until you consider that a Thai restaurant, somewhat unconventional for Panama City Beach, decided to purchase a long-sitting commercial lot to compete with the likes of Captain Anderson’s and the Treasure Ship. Not only will it compete, but from the looks of it, it has high expectations as three-fifths of the land is being flattened strictly for parking.

Future developments may become a trend if tourist traffic to that area is increased due to the Grand Lagoon Bridge expansion and proof of the location’s economic lure. With the addition of The Saki House II, Hooters, Donut Island and Bruster’s Ice Cream just north, what may have been a jewel area for locals could turn out to be Panama City Beach’s most eclectic and busiest dining experience for tourists.  With the revival of the “West-End,” we may see a huge shot in the arm of Panama City Beach’s “East-End.”

Bay County Planning Department did not have a projected completion date or a total square footage but did acknowledged that the restaurant needed a variance for the parking and based on design the restaurant itself will be 50% kitchen and 50% seating, an unusual ratio for the type of establishment.

Welcome to Grand Lagoon National – Video and Almost Live Coverage

That’s right, you read correctly. Almost live coverage of the Grand Lagoon National Fishing Tournament. By Almost Live, I mean that I’ll be posting tournament results and updates as often as I can, but not exactly as they occur.

Crews were getting set up today for the events to start tommorrow, a day later than originally planned due to Tropical Storm Fickle Fay. Of course, now, Fay is expected to make her way back over our area Friday and Saturday.

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