Monday, May 26, 2008

Christmas 1989: The year that mullet rained from the sky

Locals who dream of a White Christmas may as well face it: This is Bay County, and we're no more likely to have snow on the ground for Christmas than we are for mullet to fall from the sky.

In fact, in Bay County history we've enjoyed but one snow-covered Christmas. That was 1989, when--on Saturday, Dec. 23--a record arctic cold front dropped three inches of snow across the Panhandle.
The next day, mullet fell from the sky.

Really. (More on that intruiging subject later).

On Christmas Eve '89, many youngsters across North Florida witnessed snow for the very first time in their lives. Chris Gardner, now 27, was eight-years-old and clearly recalls helping his neighbors create a snowman.

Not all Bay Countians were so enthralled, however. The snow, sleet, and sub-freezing temperatures left roadways covered with ice. The Florida Highway Patrol reported over 100 accidents in Bay, Gulf, and Calhoun counties, including numerous wrecks on both the Hathaway and DuPont bridges.

It was a mess--a surpassingly gorgeous, virgin-white powdery, heaven-sent mess.

Then it rained mullet.

Gardner remembers how the fish, killed by the freeze, floated atop the canals lining his Bay Point neighborhood. "Pelicans swooped down and carried off the mullet," Gardner said, recalling the feeding-frenzy that caused the greedy fowl to overstuff themselves. As the pelicans flew off, mullet were dropped into yards and driveways and onto roofs.

Only in the Florida Panhandle--where a White Christmas occurs about as often as mullet rain from the sky.

--Ken Brooks
Panama City News Herald, Dec. 22, 2000

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