By Nikki Hedrick
Change is one of the few constants.
Local is a funny term around Beachcomberland, one that is envied and picked apart. Sure, you’ve lived here for 10 years, maybe 15, but sometimes that doesn’t seem enough to give an understanding of just how much this area has changed.
Heck, I’m 31 and lived over 30 of those years right off 30A, yet my window is limited. I don’t remember Fort Walton Beach or Destin as quieter versions of themselves entirely. It didn’t really register to me as a kid.
Of course, I remember some landmarks and the giant arcade that resided in Silver Sands. But living on the eastward end of 30A also means we went to Panama City Beach for lot of our standard shopping trips, making Destin more foreign.
Winter months in Seaside meant a few older people in windbreakers walking with coffee in hand. And no one else.
Sometimes, during off-season, I am in awe of the fact that we still have traffic. We have enough locals to have bona fide traffic during the slowest, least tourist-active months.
Twelve years ago when I was working at Collaborations—a retail space along 30A—I would hear visitors balk at the area’s growth. I would always smile and reply, “The change is hard as a local, but we have a hospital, a grocery store, and high school just minutes away now. It took growth to be able to sustain those as well.”
Sure, if I was magically in control there are things I would have done differently for our area and for our community. There are some serious issues bubbling right here concerning beach use, whether our infrastructure can handle our continued growth, and the lack of amenities for our youth. And that’s just for starters. These are community issues. Local issues.
Change will keep happening, but as locals we have the power to use our voices to try and keep those changes in check.