By Rebecca Sullivan Balkcom  |  Photos by Dawn Chapman Whitty


30A South Walton IMG 2363 copy 2 Designer Nicole Palomas Struggle With SuccessNICOLE PALOMA has had quite the year. After her wildly astounding runway show last October at South Walton Fashion Week, which was met with a standing ovation and left many guests in tears, Paloma was thrust into the “high-highs” of success. Her business took off like wild horses — and so did her drinking. Here’s her story of how getting sober replaced all other goals and everything she had once deemed important took a backseat to this crucial decision.

How did you first start drinking?

The first time I realized I could block emotional pain and constant goings-on in my brain was when I was 15. Having grown up around art, I drew and took photographs, but I found that drinking released a creative edge that now I realize really just quieted my process.

Were you worried that getting sober would affect your creative process as a designer and artist?

My biggest fear was that it was all going to go away once I got sober. The fear of the unknown is the worst, and it’s more the fear of being successful than the fear of failing. I used the excuse of being an “artist” and that I was supposed to be out of control, crazy and erratic. Where I got to with it was that my life and my children became much more important than being a designer.

When I came home from treatment, I was making a tee shirt for a friend and I had so much anxiety just being in the space and feeling the moment. When my creative brain turns on it’s a physical thing and without alcohol I wondered if it would come. I just started putting simple fabric pieces together and it came.

The creativity now comes out less frenetically and as more of a flow. I’m learning not to have anxiety about it and trust that those ideas are still going to come.

I needed to make a dress last night and I was tired. That would have been the time that I typically would have broken open a bottle of wine. But I realized I was tired and listened to my body and went to bed. While I was drifting off to sleep, a wonderful idea came to me. I view my creativity as the closest thing that I have to a higher power.

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30A South Walton truman Finding Truman

The Truman House

By Laura Braune Smyer

For fifteen years after its inception, 30A’s quaintly idyllic beach community of Seaside was a little-known secret gem of a vacation spot along Florida’s Emerald Coast. But in 1996, the master-planned New Urbanist beach town hit the big time when it was chosen as the primary location for the filming of Jim Carrey’s next blockbuster, The Truman Show.

Acclaimed Director Peter Weir’s wife told him about Seaside, and he was immediately sold on the location. One of Seaside’s original homes — the perfectly precious yellow and white cottage at 31 Natchez Street — was well on its way to becoming perhaps the most recognizable building on 30A.

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Ever dream of moving to the beach? Before you do, there’s a ‘secret code’ that permeates our laid-back flip-flop culture. After you’ve been around for a while, you’ll gradually figure some of these things out on your own. But for anyone who wants to study-up in advance, here are 30 tips from 30A locals that will help you ease right in…

30A South Walton Beach Dune Allen Life guard 300x257 30 Tips from 30A Locals

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Heed our beach flag system!

1. “Always pay attention to our beach flag system, and swim near one of the nine lifeguard towers stationed at our public beach accesses.”

– Rick Talbert, South Walton Fire District

2. “Don’t text and drive any time, but especially not on 30A. There are simply too many pedestrians and cyclists.”

– Dave Rauschkolb, Bud & Alley’s

3. “Pack healthy snacks for your beach days! At 91% water, watermelon is a perfect snack to keep you hydrated and satisfied.”

– Joe & Crissy Thibodeau, ThiBod Fitness

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30A South Walton Shane 3 Destin filmmaker Shane Sauer Appointed Creative Director at YOLO Board

Shane Sauer

YOLO Board, LLC, has appointed Shane Sauer as Creative Director for the Florida-based stand-up paddle lifestyle retailer.

In his role, Sauer will oversee web marketing and video production for all YOLO Board brands including YOLO Bike Co., YOLO Paddle Co. and the company’s lifestyle apparel line.

Born and raised in Destin, Florida, Sauer earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Television and Recording Arts from Florida State University. He began his career as a freelance filmmaker in 2002 and spent six years in New York City working on feature films, commercials, documentaries and music videos.

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30A South Walton BEACH LIFE SWFW 2 3 Official Schedule for South Walton Fashion Week: Oct 6 12

South Walton Fashion Week has released the official schedule for their event, which will take place October 6 – 12 at Sandestin Town Center in Grand Boulevard.

The week-long event will include runway shows, a launch party and a style lounge with exclusive pop-up shops selling designer fashion ware in the fashion village at Grand Boulevard.

The week will kick off on Thursday with a series of trunk shows and a press conference at the Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin, where a panel of celebrity judges, designers and representatives for Visit South Walton and South Walton Fashion Week will answer questions and offer interviews. Immediately following the conference, the official Fashion Week launch party will take place at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store. National and local designers and boutiques will show on the runway ThursdayFriday and Saturday nights from 7 to 10 p.m. 
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30A South Walton exploresm 500x358 Explore The Outdoors Festival at DeFuniak SpringsWalton Outdoors is hosting the annual Explore The Outdoors Festival on Saturday, October 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along the beautiful lakeyard in DeFuniak Springs on Circle Drive. The activities will be held behind the First Presbyterian Church.

This free fun-filled day for all ages is geared towards introducing children to the wonders of exploring the outdoors. The water activities are geared for children six years old and up.

Food vendors will be on hand. Hands-on activities will include fishing, boating, kayaking, wildlife encounters, interactive educational exhibits, nature-based crafts and much more.

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30A South Walton download Swim, Bike, Run at the 30A Triathlon at Gulf Place   Oct 11

The 30A Triathlonformerly known as the Destin Triathlon, will be held October 11. It will feature a fast course staged out of the beautiful Green at Gulf Place.

The triathlon will consist of a 300-yard swim, an 8-mile bike and a 5K run. You can race individually or build a team of three that specialize in each event or even a two-member team. Below is the event timeline:


4-7 p.m. – Packet pick up/Late Registration at Gulf Place Green


5 a.m. – Transition Open
5:30 a.m. – Body Marking and Packet Pickup
7 a.m. – Race Start
10:30 a.m. – Awards

Click here to register now.

This a great event for first timers. PT Solutions will supply all participants with a soft squeeze race bottle and all finishers receive a beautiful finishers medal. There will be an epic post-race party on the Green with music, red beans and rice and an awards ceremony. Former Channel 7 news anchor Jeremy Pate will be the announcer for the event.

Travel Advisory: Due to road closures, expect delays from 7 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. on 30A between Grayton Beach and Stinky’s fish house. 

For more info and registration details, visit


While a handful of die-hard locals have no doubt sampled all of South Walton’s wonderful watering holes, out-of-town visitors don’t always have a lot of extra time to venture off the sandy path.

And although the following bars are somewhat hidden away from public view, there’s certainly no reason to keep any of them confidential. Even if you’re a local, we bet you’ll still find something new to try on our list of the Top 10 Secret Bars of South Walton:

30A South Walton The Marigny Top 10 Secret Bars of South Walton

The Marigny — Part of the WHO DAT Nation

1. The Marigny

Located just north of Highway 98 on Bald Eagle Drive, The Marigny is an out-of-the-way spot for locals and Who Dat ex-pats who crave authentic Cajun, Creole, and New Orleans cooking and concoctions. Executive Chef Chris Mongogna makes everything from scratch with 100% pure Louisiana soul and pride. The Marigny’s laid-back poolside setting is an ideal place to watch any big game… unless, of course, you’re rooting for the team that’s playing against The Saints!

30A South Walton Redd Top 10 Secret Bars of South Walton

Redd, The Singing Bartender

2. Redd’s Fueling Station

Tucked away behind “Sally’s by the Sea Store” (an old-school convenience store that sits right atop Blue Mountain Beach), Redd’s Fueling Station features food, a full bar and live tunes many nights of the week, including Open Mic nights. The Proprietor, Redd, is famous for her larger-than-life “Singing Bartender” personality, routinely belting out her unique brand of show tunes and rowdy fun to the delight of locals and visitors alike.

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