For many years we have held our family reunion in or near Pensacola Beach, usually over the Fourth of July Holiday. For many years we stayed at the Clarion Resort on Via Luna Drive. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Clarion and we had to find another family friendly hotel. We did find a hotel which we grew to love, the Marriott Springhill Suites in Pensacola Beach.
We usually make our reservation 11 months in advance and hope that most of our large family will be able to come. Unfortunatley with Summer School and job commitments we are not always all able to come.
Our family consists of me, Oma, five daughters, 14 grandchildren and now also nine great grandchildren and respective spouses. Like I said before not all of us can come every year.
This year was different though, we again had our reservation for the Fourth of July weekend. Then came April 20 and the Deepwater Horizon explosion. At first we were not worried, it was a long time til July and Florida seemed so far away from the disaster. We all believed the leak would be stopped in a matter of days. We followed the news carefully, our local news and the National news and it became more depressing as time went on. We heard about tar balls, oil in the marshes, Vessels of Opportunity and naturally we heard about BP. When we heard one day that the beaches in Pensacola were closed, I began to worry, I ask the family what should we do? Go ahead with our plans or cancel? Not one of them wanted to cancel, my youngest granddaughter pointed out, that the hotel had two pools and a splashpool and we still would have fun. The beach closure turned out to be only temporary, so we packed our gear including swim suits, beach toys and boogie boards and headed for the beach on July 2nd.Some of us met at McGuire's in Pensacola for our tradional lunch.
We had requested an early check-in and our rooms were ready when we arrived. The staff at the hotel was fantastic.
One of the days the beach was closed due to strong wave action from Hurricane Alex so we played in the pools and some went to the board walk. When we had a little rain, we played boardgames in the conference room. As always we enjoyed the great variety of the breakfast.
This year we were able to watch the fireworks right on the beach of the hotel, that was great. My three year old great grandson still cannot get over that he saw the real Blue Angels flying over the beach. On the way home some of the family stopped at the NAS and visited the Aviation Museum.
I am so glad that we did not let the media interfere with our plans, we had a wonderful time this year, the beaches were never cleaner, the staff never friendlier.
Yes, we did see the nightly clean-up crews, the National Park Service and Coast Guard Personnel, but this family of 14 adults and 12 children did not let that interfere with their fun or yearly tradition.
The attached pictures show some of our activities.