Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Options for New Year's Eve in Gulf Shores

Again I find myself in a position of new entertainment options coming to me rather than me traveling to find them. Now in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida area I have SO many new options for celebrating New Year's Eve.

One of the most intriguing New Year's Eve options is actually an outdoor event on the "streets" of The Wharf. A local band from Mobile, Alabama, the Tip Tops, are the headliner and they are one of my all time favorite bands. In fact during the Shrimp Festival in October in Gulf Shores I made sure not to miss their performance. There will be fun entertainment for kids such as a living statue, unicyclist, juggler, caricaturist, fortune teller, and a magician. In addition to the live entertainment, The Wharf will have projection screens highlighting other New Year’s Eve events around the country. At the stroke of midnight a new coastal tradition will be born when "the anchor drops" to mark the new year.

The events, called “Block Party Blowout” will begin at 8:00 p.m. along the Boardwalk. Retail shops and restaurants (some with special extended holiday hours for the occasion) will join in the celebration as The Wharf blocks off Main Street and Wharf Parkway for the party of the year. I can't wait and if you don't have plans yet come on down (check our website for the perfect condo for the weekend). You'll love the many entertainment options and as always you'll love the Alabama and Florida gulf coast.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas in Gulf Shores

If you feel as I do you can't believe the calendar or the buzz that Christmas is only a few days away. I'm not really certain where the time went this year but without a doubt 2007 is fast approaching.

Christmas in Gulf Shores will be even more exciting than ever before this year because of new entertainment venues, shopping and restaurants. It has been my pleasure to stay in my comfortable surroundings at my home just 10 miles from the beach and watch all these improvements take place around me. Retail and outlet shopping that I would have in the past traveled either to Mobile Alabama or Pensacola Florida (or further) to find is here in my own backyard. Restaurants that were first famous in Destin, Florida are here now too. And even more shopping and dining opportunities are coming soon. The Wharf continues to add more retail and dining and Colonial Pinnacle at Craft Farms is making great strides in their construction with plans to open in spring. Target and Cobb Pinnacle 14 Theatres are already open and handy for me (between my work and my home).

The development I'm enjoying seeing is also attracting more visitors, which is a wonderful boost for our resort area. So even though it's hard to believe Christmas is almost here for me the holidays will be enhanced by the new opportunities to shop, dine and have fun in Gulf Shores.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holidays at the Shore

Turkey at the beach? Why not? I spent the day after Thanksgiving at the beach with my relatives who had rented a beautiful, gulf front condominium at Grand Pointe in Orange Beach, Alabama. The two boys loved tossing a football on the beach and searching for shells. The gulf water was a little too cold for swimming but they enjoyed that activity at the indoor pool. My mother was able to spend quality time with her great-grandchildren on the sunny balcony overlooking the beach.

A big bonus for this particular condo is the close proximity to the pass where boat traffic from the bay to the gulf and back can be observed. It is a great treat to watch the charter boats leave for the day and return in the afternoon with their big catch. Lots of pleasure boats also travel through this narrow pass to open gulf waters.
Boating in general along our Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast is so very popular for skiing and both inshore, back bay and deep-sea fishing. A very popular attraction all year are the dolphin cruises provided several charters. The America III, a 73 ft. glass bottom boat will be the host for our FREE Winter Guest dolphin cruises in February provided exclusively for Meyer Real Estate guests. To learn more about other Winter Guest activities click here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Near Beach

Ever had a near beach experience? At Meyer Real Estate we use the term "gulf oriented" to describe properties near the beach and not fronting other water such as a bay or lagoon. Often this means a wonderful vacation spot with easy access to the gulf. An added bonus many times is a gulf view and the best news is the great value. One way to think about a beach vacation is that you are buying the view, so it pays to at least take a look at some of the near beach possibilities if budget is a priority. More and more upscale properties are now being constructed across the street from the beach. In Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan houses located one or two blocks, otherwise known as tiers, away from the gulf-front properties are very affordable. At Kiva Dunes golf course these homes front a world-class golf course with access to the gulf. Also at Lost Key Golf Club in Perdido Key Florida there are brand new luxurious condominiums on the golf course with gulf views. Mariner Lakes, Grand Carribean and Romar Lakes in Orange Beach are other examples of great near beach retreats. Click here for more gulf oriented properties. Our Alabama and Florida coast abounds with a wide variety of property locations, so I strongly suggest a near beach experience.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fall Shrimp Festival

Thirty five years ago a group on individuals on our island (Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Orange Beach, Alabama) decided that after the summer season it was time for the locals to party. They created the Shrimp Festival which was a big beach party with music and food and a general great time in honor of the importance that the seafood industry plays in our part of the coast. As the fun grew bigger and more people decided to join the locals more music, food, fine arts crafts were added. Now the National Shrimp Festival is a must on the fall schedule for 200,000+ residents and visitors. It was recently named one of the top twenty events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society and one of the top 5 tourist attractions in the state of Alabama. It is still held at the end of the highway (59) where the beach (and the fun) begins and there is still no admission price. It begins on Thursday (Oct 12) and I'll be there to buy a "seafood pistol",which is a wonderful cajun delight. I'll step a few feet to the boardwalk and watch the waves and the people walking along the shore. There I'll eat my first course and decide what to try next whether more seafood or maybe some dessert. After visiting some of my favorite artists and possibly picking out a special watercolor print I'll make my way to the music area to enjoy the bands. In the past 25 years I've never missed the National Shrimp Festival and this year will be no exception. Click here if you want to know more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Friendly Pet Properties

Pets are members of our family and more and more of us do not want to leave them behind when we go on vacation. Recently at Meyer Real Estate one of our vacationing customers from Phoenix City, Alabama said it best when commenting on her visit "we so enjoyed having our whole family (pet) together. For people who don't have children often their pet becomes one, and it was great to have him with us." She is certainly not alone in this idea of traveling with a family pet, especially if the pet is a dog.

Our beaches are the perfect place to walk and play with dogs, especially in the Fort Morgan area which has less beach restrictions than the City of Gulf Shores. Both areas are accepting to pets with proper care taken to ensure everyone around you has a pleasant experience. More and more of Meyer Real Estate's vacation rental houses located on the beach or within a short walk are now allowing dogs under 30 lbs. to visit with their owners year round. A list of specific friendly pet properties can be found here.

A few years ago my family included our precious Lhasa Apso, Princess, on our beach vacation. Even though we only live a few miles from the beach it was a great treat to spend the relaxing time together at the beach house without the cares of the day. We were happy to find a friendly pet property and I'm a true believer that including the family dog can enhance the beach experience.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Grass to Last

Sea grasses have an amazing ability to hold the sandy soil in place thus building dunes and preserving beaches. For eighteen months the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama spent large amounts of funds to rebuild, widen and stabilize our beaches. The many months of dredging and depositing sand resulted in an award-winning restoration recognized by the American Beach and Shore Preservation Association. This organization named us one of six Top Restored Beaches in America for 2006.

Phase two, the planting of sea oats and panic grass and erecting of fencing called "snow fence", is quite remarkable. Now from any vantage point, up and down the Alabama Gulf Coast, as far as the eye can see the new growth is taking hold, hunkering down and accomplishing the goals. The whole process is a special wonder to behold. I've watched the newly planted sea oats sprout, flounder a little when we had too little rain, and now begin to flourish. I can't wait to see the next step as the dunes begin to form and grow.

For a first-hand look at this incredible new growth of sea grass designed to make the beach last, simply search our website to find a bargain-priced vacation rental property and head to the coast. You'll love what you see at our award-winning beach.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dockside Dining

My first BLOG and several to follow centered on enjoyment of our local restaurants in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida areas. Later I backed off of these particular comments since my food experiences might be of little interest. However, I've decided food is such an integral component in the enjoyment of our Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast that it would be foolish not to share with all who wish to read this BLOG.

Last night was an example of the coastal cuisine we enjoy on a regular basis. Friends from Atlanta joined us for a delightful dinner dockside at the Giggling Grouper in Orange Beach. The setting overlooking the marina was gorgeous especially as the sun set behind the trees with sailboats traveling by on the Intracoastal Waterway. A large heron decided to perch nearby and seemed to pose for our photos.As a cool gentle breeze kept us comfortable we enjoyed a fantastic fresh seafood meal served by attentive, friendly restaurant staff. Above our heads on another outside deck the band was playing and the atmosphere was one of total relaxation. Once again I find myself so privileged to enjoy what others travel here to experience.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Natural Beach

Several years ago during a school trip with my son's class I took my first hike in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach. This 6,700 acres preserve is located off Fort Morgan Parkway (Hwy. 180) just 10 miles west of the main highway (Hwy. 59)into the Gulf Shores, Alabama area. Although I'm a native of this area I had never discovered this awesome Wildlife Refuge. I found out that is was established by congress in 1980 to preserve the coastal dune ecosystem and protect threatened and endangered species including nesting sites for green, loggerhead, and other sea turtles.

This refuge named Bon Secour, meaning safe harbor in French, serves as a sanctuary for native flora and fauna and comprises one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the Alabama coast. Over 370 species of birds have been identified on the refuge during migratory seasons. The largest are ospreys and herons with the smallest being seven species of hummingbirds.

We hiked the two-mile Pine Beach Trail that meanders through a forest of palmettos, live oaks and Spanish moss past Gator Lake and Little Lagoon to a spectacular ridge of dunes and a pristine, all-natural beach. An easier beach access with parking facilities is located at Mobile Street. We also stopped by the refuge office for more park information.

I've never forgotten the sense of wonder I felt as we made our way through the natural surrounding to one of the most spectacular beaches in the world, practically in my own backyard. As Meyer Real Estate hosts thousands of visitors each year I see them frequent the public beach areas in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and I wonder when they too will find their way to this most natural of beaches.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Inviting and Interactive

Each year Meyer Real Estate welcomes thousands of families to our coast. Our destination of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida has always been family-oriented and known for laid-back fun. Now that our vacation rental business is approaching 2,000 properties we are challenged to provide a check-in experience that suits the region and our organization. An award-winning designer was chosen a few years ago to capture the essence of our desire to welcome our customers to Meyer Real Estate and to their vacation experience. It was decided that we certainly want an inviting welcome as these weary families exit the car that has been their temporary home for many hours and come inside for their first taste of paradise. We also desired an interactive courtyard where the customer feels they can wander around the circular paths, experience the garden atmosphere and observe the playful bronze statues. In late spring when the landscaper began to finalize the vision we all were amazed that truly both inside and outside our new Gulf Shores corporate office facility embodied these ideals.

Now that we have almost completed a summer of arriving and departing vacationers we are confident that the objectives were met and our customers feel the environment we have created is both inviting and interactive. On a busy summer Saturday I've observed children scurrying around under the ancient oak that was preserved and even poking sticks at the trunk of the tree. Often they walk up to the statue of the two children swinging and pushing the swing to get a closer look. I've even seen a group of four small children one by one hug the statue. Sometimes the parents and grandparents pose the children for a photo beside the statue of the young golfer wearing his dad's big shores. We even have experienced families spreading their picnic blanket and enjoying a noon meal while they wait for check-in time. This is exactly what was envisioned and we love the comfortable, relaxed atmosphere to put the customer - who needs a vacation - in the proper mindset for their beach experience.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hard to Believe

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the peak beach season in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key Florida, just as it does at most beach resorts. The difference this year is that the definitive travel pattern that has held true for 30 years has changed dramatically. Our vacation business is basically driven by the school system calendar because our beach destination is first and foremost family oriented. Parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all converge on our soft, white beaches to revisit their relationships, relax, build memories and most of all HAVE FUN. So in past years the typical vacation pattern is for visitors to complete their summer reservation plans during the months of January, February and March. This year however a phenomenon of a shortened vacation reservation window has emerged. In early May we had a large amount of available vacation rental properties for the Memorial Day holiday but as the end of the month approached the gaps began to fill. By the time the holiday rolled around we had a "full house", which has never occurred before at Meyer Real Estate.

The last minute reservation pattern has continued all summer. Another peak week occurred the 4th of July with almost all condominiums and beach houses occupied. Now it's hard to believe that July is almost over and school sessions in some areas will begin as early as mid-August. The last hurrah for many families will be the time period immediately after the rental prices drop on August 5, 2006.

Although the summer is almost over, which is hard to believe, the fall ushers in a whole new set of delights with great weather, fewer crowds and fun festivals.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Summertime Glow

Often we find a bottled solution to a summertime glow if we can't make it to the beach for a tan. However, Meyer Real Estate has made the possibility of a beach vacation in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida very attractive this summer with a wide variety of specials.

Even if you did not plan ahead, we have last-minute 25% off specials for vacationers arriving within 12 days and staying from 4 days to a week. Web surfers can save $50 - $100 by reserving their vacation online. Later in the summer, during the "Thunder on the Gulf" Powerboat Races(August 17-20), there is a special rate for the weekend - 3rd night FREE in condominiums and 4th night FREE in beach houses.

During June (May 25 - June 23) we have designed a "Fun with Father" package with entertainment for the entire family. Activities range from go-cart rides at The Track, waterslide fun at Waterville, viewing the newest tiger cubs at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo to historic Fort Morgan and mini-golf at Pirate's Island. No doubt Dad would love this family beach getaway a whole lot more than a tie for Father's Day. Prices for a two-bedroom gulf front condo for a family of four start at $1064 for three nights including entertainment. Call 800.964.4683 if interested in this "Fun with Father" package or any custom package.

Another Father's Day idea is visiting our coast and attending the 2nd Annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival in Foley, Alabama during the dates of June 16 - 18. In fact that weekend provides a different kind of summertime glow when the 50+ Hot Air Balloons light up the sky in their evening glow spectacular. I'm looking forward to seeing this beautiful sight since I was in attendance last year and found this portion of the Festival my second favorite event. My favorite time was watching the balloons land at the Festival site on Saturday during one of their Rally races. The grace and beauty of these awesome balloons is breathtaking.

So, come on down to the coast and start glowing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More Sand for One and All

The sugary white sand of the Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida area has delighted beachgoers for years. However, over time the elements and occasional storms take their toll on the width of the beach lying between the structures and the waterline. A much needed beach restoration was performed beginnin in 2005 from Perdido Pass Bridge in Orange Beach to the end of West Beach in Gulf Shores, for a total of approximately 16 miles of coastal frontage. The process of pumping the sand from a harvest site just offshore with compatible sand the size, shape and color of existing sand was amazing. Over the 18 months of the project 7.1 million cubic yards of sand was deposited on shore which is equivalent to 470,000 truck loads of this precious material.

Sand fence is still being installed and native grasses (sea oats and panic grass) are being planted to build back the dune system.

The results of this expensive project are incredible and have resulted in very wide, much improved beaches. The project was designed with future erosion in mind, assuring a much bigger beach for years to come.

National recognition was recently bestowed on our beaches by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, when we were named one of six "Top Restored Beaches in America for 2006." The other beaches receiving the 2006 award are Assateague Island National Seashore, MD; Captive Island, FL; Pinellas County Beaches, FL; Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches, DE; and Sea Bright to Manasquan Beach, NJ.

As long as I can remember I've loved to feel the clean, soft, white sand under my bare feet and hear the squeak this unusual sand makes as I make my way to the water's edge. I usually sit for long periods of time gazing at the waves, watching the many birds and sand crabs and just sifting the sand through my fingers. If possible I stay for the brilliant sunset because it reminds me of the grandeur and beauty of our world.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Red Snapper World Championship

The third annual Orange Beach World Championship Red Snapper Tournament opened last Friday (April 21, 2006) in Orange Beach, Alabama to record crowds. The largest number of participants in a single day, a total of 1500, fished on opening day. And no wonder with cash prizes in the thousands. In fact the first prize winner will be awarded $25,000 and winners of second through sixth prize will receive a total of $36,000. In the event someone catches a new world record red snapper $500,000 will be given to that lucky angler. A Nissan Titan truck will be the prize for a new state record red snapper. I'd say these are pretty good incentives to buy a $5 ticket and pay for a deep-sea charter.

I was unable to attend the opening day events but one of my team members went out on a large charter boat, "Miss Celeste", from Zeke's Marina. He reports a fabulous day of fishing and photography. No one on that boat caught the largest fish of the day but he captured some shots of some large catches at the weigh-in at Zeke's Marina in Orange Beach. My plans before the tournament ends on May 21, 2006 are to visit the weigh-in station to view the exhilaration as the boats arrive with their big fish.

It really is exciting that our community hosts the world's largest bottom fishing tournament. Lots of media are present, both TV and various publication representatives, to report from the event.

Before the fun ends make your plans to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast and contact Meyer Real Estate for accommodations. You will be happy you found time to fish in this fun event or at least that you watched the fish arrive at the dock. Maybe you'll catch the big one and go back home with extra cash.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Water and Woods

With signs of spring surrounding us and summerlike weather in the high 80's and low 90's occurring lately it's very hard to sit at my desk and work. In my new office surroundings I can almost see the beach. It's two miles away but because of the larger condominium buildings in Gulf Shores (Alabama) being visible from my window it brings the coast closer to me. On any given day I ride along the waterfront on the way to a routine business meeting in Orange Beach (Alabama) and watch the waves lap at the shore. It definitely puts me in a peaceful state of mind. What I've done in the past, and should start again, is take my lunch to the boardwalk at the public beach in Gulf Shores. Just those few minutes gazing out at the waves and watching vacationers walking the beach is so refreshing. Day in and day out the scene changes either from a gulf so calm you could water-ski, to a rough wave day that is so awe-inspiring. Most days if you sit long enough dolphins appear in the waters just off shore. This is especially easy to see from the balcony of a condominium or even the deck of a beach house.

I really think I have the best of both worlds because the shore is so wonderful and inland just a few miles the residential areas are lush with greenery, flowering shrubs and trees. The woodlands in our county are so abundant. In fact an aerial view such as the one I experienced this past summer at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival brought this back to mind. At that Festival, because Meyer Real Estate was a Corporate Sponsor, I was privileged to ride in a hot air balloon and see first hand how the business and residential areas are just carved out of the woods. And the water, oh my goodness we have such an abundance of water throughout our coastal area not just the gulf waters but bays, bayous, lagoons, rivers and an intracoastal waterway.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sense of Pride

On a recent Saturday at Meyer Real Estate we were bidding farewell to our winter guests from cold northern states and welcoming families for spring break. I volunteered to assist with the welcoming process and found myself for the first time able to work in our newly completed lobby at the corporate office in Gulf Shores, Alabama (my office is located on the fourth floor). The original office building is currently undergoing extensive renovation and the new lobby, which is absolutely awesome, has recently opened for vacation rental and real estate sales services.

Our arriving customers are treated to a beautifully landscaped courtyard entrance which allows them to climb out of the car after a long drive and unwind while one person takes care of the business inside. Inside I found that customers were happy to wait in the new surroundings for one of the staff to become available because there is so much to see now. Beautiful paintings depicting life at the beach line the walls and our sand display from around the world has a special area of it's own. We even have a large art display of a "blinking" fish and an even larger sculpture of a blue heron.

It was definitely with a sense of pride that I spent the afternoon interacting with our visitors and watching their reaction to the new office building. We all look forward to the completion of both buildings for a combined total of 36,000 square feet of office space. And we especially appreciate the new opportunities to serve all of our customers in a manner that better addresses their needs.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Flowers and More

We had such a mild winter in Alabama this year at Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. This phenomenon proved quite confusing for our flowering shrubs. Last week I visited Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, Alabama with our winter guests during one of our tour activities. The azaleas were absolutely breathtaking as were the daffodils and other beautiful flowers. There were indications that some of the plants had bloomed prematurely and were now blooming for the second time. The effect was nonetheless aweinspiring to see these well-groomed gardens in full bloom. The only disappointment was that we were too early for the magnificent rose garden. Each season of the year boosts a wide variety of flowers at Bellingrath but spring is undoubtedly the most spectacular.

Our group also took the Delta Cruise on the Southern Belle and the captain gave an extremely informative presentation regarding the history of the delta region. We learned not only about the estuary but also about the history of Mobile itself.

This event concluded our Winter Guest actities which began and ended at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. In some ways the time flew by and I will miss so many of our guests. I will keep in touch with them via email newsletters and several have promised to call me after they return home.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Playful Dolphins

As our guide and boat captain left the dock last Friday in search of dolphins he guaranteed we would find them. And find them we did, plus they were in a playful mood. The captain, Chris Eberly of the Southern Rose, stated that in two years he had never failed to find dolphins in our bays and backwaters. What entertainment for the 101 Meyer Real Estate winter visitors who were being treated to the free dolphin cruise as part of our 26 Winter Guest events this year.

So there we were on a beautiful day in February, with the sun shining brightly and a brisk breeze blowing as we began looking on the left and looking on the right for these amazing creatures. The Southern Rose is equipped with underwater cameras which provided our first dolphin glimpse. Soon two dolphins broke the surface of the water to our delight. The captain made sure he circled the creatures so that the crowds gathered on each side of the boat could get a good look and try their hand at capturing dolphins on film. Personally I never managed to snap the photo at the appropriate time, so I got lots of photos of water and only one photo with a visible fin in the frame. As we moved to locations frequented by the dolphin families, we saw more and more of them and watched as they raced the boat and played in the warm waters.

The two hour cruise had plenty of sights to enjoy, in addition to dolphins, as the captain described some of the more outstanding structures we were viewing and told some inside info about the property owners. Sometimes I like to play tourist and enjoy the area amusements available to our visitors. This was a grand opportunity for me to do so and I enjoyed the afternoon very much. I would highly recommend a dolphin cruise on the Southern Rose in Orange Beach, Alabama when you visit our coast.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Winter and Spring Break Golf

Since I've always lived on the Alabama Gulf Coast, I've never experienced that cabin fever and frustration of not being able to play golf in the winter. This winter has been especially warm and beautiful and on January 31st our Winter Guest Golf Tournament began with 100 participants teeing off at noon. The Cotton Creek at Craft Farms course was in fabulous shape and the sun enhanced the experience as the three other players and I proceeded to play good but not great golf. We ended up even with a 72 at the end of the tournament which did not earn us one of the top three slots but I can tell you all four of us went away happy.

As we approach spring season I always think about the guys who play what I call "spring break golf." Each year when I attend the Golf Show in Chicago in February I get amused at the excitement of show attendees who describe their upcoming golf trips. It seems like a great escape from the winter weather, the day-to-day routine and maybe even the stress of being the responsible adult in the family. Now don't get me wrong I don't think for one moment that a break is a bad thing, in fact I'm of the opinion it is a most healthy way to relieve stress.

Our Golf Coordinator at Meyer Real Estate is much more familiar with the motivations expressed by our customers in all seasons who reserve golf packages. Sometimes the golf packages are designed for a couple who need a weekend getaway, or the foursome who travels some distance to play golf one or sometimes two times a day. Often the golf group, especially in spring, is 16 guys or more who play "serious golf."

I need to clear my schedule more often to play golf myself at one of our many championship courses. Some people are so impressed with our gulf coast area they call it the golf coast. And here I am in the heart of this golfing community and I don't get out of the office to play nearly enough.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Animal Planet's "Little Zoo that Could" Premiers

As a member of the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Board of Directors it was with great pride that I watched, along with millions of other viewers, the premier of the Animal Planet series entitled "The Little Zoo that Could" last Wednesday night. This 13-part series was filmed last fall while the production crew stayed in two Meyer Real Estate condominiums at Admirals Quarters in Orange Beach.

All of the film crew who visited during the production were very impressed with the beauty and laid-back atmosphere of our area. They became part of the everyday scene for 5 months as they followed the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Director, Patti Hall, and zoo staff documenting their every action.

The series was proposed last summer and our Board of Directors approved the project. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has struggled since Hurricane Ivan to find the funds to continue operations and repair the Zoo, which reopened 13 months after the devastation. Without gate receipts and with expenses continuing and mounting it has been a difficult time. However, the community has rallied to assist with the expenses and many donations were received following the publicity of Chuckie the Alligator escaping during the Hurricane. The donations will no doubt increase due to the Animal Planet exposure to our needs. The funds will be used for operations, continued repair and improvements and future relocation of the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

You can be sure I will not miss a single episode, which will air each Wednesday at 8 p.m. Central Time, as the story of our "Little Zoo that Could" unfolds week after week.