The Forgotten Coast of Florida lies along the Panhandle. It is bounded on the West by Mexico Beach, St. Joe Beach and Port St. Joe. Going East you come to Simmons Bayou, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, and The City of Apalachicola on the banks of the Apalachicola River. Continuing east you come to Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Lanark Village, St. James Island, St. Teresa Island, and Alligator Point in Franklin County, FL. As you cross the Ochlockonee River on Highway 98 you enter Wakulla County, FL and Ochlockonee Bay, Mashes Sands, Panacea, Live Oak Island, Shell Point and St. Marks. The St. Marks Lighthouse and nature preserve is the easternmost place on the Forgotten Coast. Each area is different, and all are uncrowded Natural Wonders.



JULY 2014

Seven Communities Stage July 3&4 Activities 

 Scallop Season Continues


By Chuck Spicer

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There isn’t a more patriotic area of the country than Florida’s Forgotten Coast. With Mexico Beach bordering the massive Tyndall Air Force Base reservation and eastern Franklin County the WWII home of the former Camp Gordon Johnston and current home (Carrabelle) of a World War 11 museum , is it any wonder that this region really goes all out on Independence Day.

In fact, there are so many “Independence Day” celebrations in the area that one is actually held July 3 so as not to interfere with the many already established festivities up and down the road. By the way, the rumor that Will Smith will be on hand for our “Independence Day” celebrations is totally unfounded. Someone forget to invite him.

Apalachicola reintroduced its celebration a few years ago and has the stage all to itself this July 3. It is sponsored by Historic Apalachicola Mainstreet and is staged at and around Riverfront Park on the shores of the Apalachicola River in the downtown area.

Folks will begin pouring into town at high noon as the cooking tents will be conjuring up some “old Apalach” style seafood (all styles of shrimp and low country boil) along with “freedom fries” and other mouth-watering treats. And the live music will begin on the main stage at noon and will continue on into the evening. Interrupted only by the live auction to be conducted by venerable auctioneer Harry Arnold and his comic sidekick Chuck Spicer.

The highlight of the musical presentations will be a couple of appearances by the popular “Tobacco Road Band” (“TBR”), an outstanding country/rock group that has quite the following. A parade will organize at 6 pm at Lafayette Park (established in 1832) and will wind its way through the streets of Apalach starting at 6:30 pm. Organizers have sent out a special invitation to all past and current military folks to participate.

There is a large tent hosting a big bunch of curtain climber activities and even an old fashion ice cream social. Don’t forget your lawn chairs!

No matter where you are on the Forgotten Coast on July 4 there will be a celebration just a couple miles away.

Most all of Wakulla County heads for Sopchoppy for their all-day affair that gets kicked off with a colorful 10:30 am parade along the main drag. Get there early if you would like to find a parking spot anywhere near the parade route or the park. It is that popular!  Following the parade the city park will swing open its gates and there will be activities throughout the day. Culminating with a great fireworks display.

Carrabelle, which hosts the annual Camp Gordon Johnston Days (which honors all military folks past and present) on a weekend in March, will be providing a fireworks display. It can be seen from just about any perch on the Carrabelle River. Meanwhile, we think there will also be fireworks on St. George Island in Franklin County. We can never be certain as the islanders are motivated by the beat of a different drum. Heck, an impromptu parade might also break out.

In coastal Gulf County all residents and Cape San Blas vacationers will head for the park on St. Joseph Bay in Port St Joe as the patriotic “Constitution City” goes all out with its great fireworks display. Those in northern Gulf County will not have to make the lengthy trek to PSJ as Wewahitchka will also hold its own celebration at Lake Alice Park, home of the annual Tupelo Festival.

All of these fireworks displays are set to go off at darkthirty, eastern time.

Let’s see, if a community operates on Central Time does that mean it will get dark an hour later than it does in the Eastern Time Zone. Or vice versa. Anyway, when it gets dark in the central time zone the community of Mexico Beach will be concluding its day of fun activities with a real “Blast on the Beach.”

The day actually begins bright and early with a 5k Fun Run at “Under the Palms Park” on 7th Street.  All ages are invited to participate in this family fun event. Packet pickup begins at 6:00am and the race starts at 7:00am CST.

Then, it's a quick hop over to Canal Park, at the edge of Tyndall AFB, where the Kid's Fishing Tournament takes place 9:30am till11am CST.  With no entry fee, kids ages 2–14 are invited to bring their fishing poles and try to reel in the big one. Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be provided to the young anglers and their families.

No July 4th would be complete without a firework show and Mexico Beach offers a “really big shoe” (apologies to the late Ed Sullivan) at 8:30pm CST!  Watch from the beach, the balcony of your vacation home or at one of the restaurants and enjoy as all say Happy Birthday America.

Have you been counting? That’s seven celebrations over a two-day span. Happy Birthday and don’t forget your lawn chairs, cameras and bug spray.

By the way, kindly inform the youngsters that it is not only coincidence that the widespread Independence Day celebrations and the 4th of July both fall on the same day.


                                                     OTHER JULY ACTIVITIES

July is historically the busiest month of the year on the forgotten Coast as we are in the midst of “Family Summer Vacation” season. And the beaches will be the busiest they will ever be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quarter mile of secluded beach on which to relax.  We’ve got plenty of beach sand for everyone. For instance, Franklin County alone has 250 miles of beaches. The one at St. George Island State Park ranks as the third best beach in the nation while the beach at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park was previously ranked as the top beach in the nation.

 The 14th Annual Mexico Beach Photography Contest began April 1st and runs thru July 30th. All Photographs must be taken in Mexico Beach and submitted to the Mexico Beach Community Development Council by the deadline.

The Bay Scallop Season, which usually opens July 1, opened Saturday, June 28 this year. The recreational season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County (see map in Gulf County section). The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25. All other regulations, including bag and vessel limits, apply.

Recreational scallop hunting is a mighty popular pastime of Florida’s Forgotten Coast and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Now that the season has opened you will see vehicles lining the roadways in Port St. Joe (Gulf County) and along scenic route C-30 all the way to the tip of Cape San Blas as individuals and families enjoy gathering the evening meal.

 On July 3 there will be a July “Paddle Out” in Apalachicola. Go to website: www.paddle2love.com for all the details. For those unaware, there was recently a gathering of more than 300 paddling enthusiast on Apalachicola Bay. It is certainly one of our more popular recreational activities. Read on about still another paddling event this month.

Live music is the perfect backdrop on July 4 as you browse the art at the Thirsty Goat in Port St. Joe on the first Friday evening of the month.

The Cape St. George Lighthouse (St. George Island) Features Full Moon Climb on July 12. You can watch the sun set and full moon rise from the top of the Cape St. George Lighthouse from 8-9:30pm. Tickets are $15.00 per person, or $10.00 for St. George Lighthouse Association members, and include light hors d'oeuvres and a sparkling cider toast to the Full Moon.  After sunset, additional climbers are welcome at the top for a view of the Full Moon, as time and space permit. Reservations are recommended. Phone: 850-927-7745. Website: www.stgeorgelight.org/

On the first Saturday (5) and third Saturday (19) the SaltAir Farmers’ Market will be open in Port St. Joe at City Commons Park. It is held the First & Third Saturday mornings of each month thru October.

On July 19 the annual C-Quarters Marina Youth Fishing Tournament, at 501 St. James Ave (Highway 98) in Carrabelle, will be staged. Youngsters under 16 will gather for some fishing tips, fishing time and fun food. And plenty of prizes. There is plenty of adult supervision but you are always welcome to come by and get a good chuckle. But it better not be when a youngster is weighing in his one-ounce “trophy catch”. Phone: (850) 697-8400  Website: www.c-quartersmarina.com/tournaments.html


Mexico Beach Marina hosts it 10th annual Offshore Classic on July 25!  With two days to fish for the big one, anglers will fight it out to prove they have what it takes.  The Captain's party will take place on Thursday night with time and location to be posted at a later day.  Then it's time for the fishing to begin with grand prizes in Wahoo, Kingfish and Mackerel as well as an optional jackpot.

Weigh in both days at the Mexico Beach Marina. Awards party on Saturday will be at the Marina with food, beverages and entertainment.  To register or for more information visit the Mexico Beach Marina or their website..



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