Local PacSun Store Causes National Controversy With Upside Down Flag Shirt Display
By: Kelly Woodard
The Pacific Sun store (or PacSun as it is often referred to) at the Tanger Outlet Center in Foley has caused a national stir after a photo of a mannequin wearing a t-shirt featuring an upside down American Flag was displayed in the front of the store over the Memorial Day Weekend went viral.
The photo was taken at a storefront at Tanger Outlet Mall in Foley, AL on May 23rd by Rachel Zawacki-Kuss. Appalled by the shirt, she posted the picture on PacSun’s Facebook page with the statement, “I saw this at your location at Tanger Outlets this morning in Foley, Alabama. I understand freedom of speech but this shirt, displayed prominently at the entrance of your store, for Memorial Day weekend is more distasteful and disrespectful than anything I thought I’d see. I will not be shopping at PacSun again.”
After news of the photo broke, many here on the gulf coast and all over the country, stood divided on the issue. While many found the image on the shirt offensive, others are claiming that the shirt is merely a political statement implying that our country is in distress.
In accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8 no American Flag should be held upside down “except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Although PacSun didn’t break any official laws, many are saying that the decision to carry the shirt in its stores are not a form of free speech, but rather a sign of treason.
U.S. Army veteran Tanner Barney said, “To see a flag, inverted, in distress, it’s such an insult to me, to any veteran, to any active duty service member, to my friends who died.” Barney went on to say that while the argument of “freedom of speech” is always valid, the t-shirt is hardly justifiable to him. “The flag is sacred and to call it being disrespected freedom of speech is just a slap in the face,” he said.
Local resident Tyler Jenkins disagreed with Barney’s views, saying, “I think that the shirt represents the state that America is in. With recent civil unrest, police brutality, and government failures, our country is on the verge of collapse. It should be we, the people, who exercise our right to show our disapproval of how things are going.”
Another local woman, who asked that her name be withheld in print, said that Jenkins, along with many other Americans, has it all wrong. “I agree that changes need to be made in this country, but wearing a stupid t-shirt isn’t what creates change. And disrespecting the very image of our freedom to do so is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If people really want to reclaim the United States, quit cruising social media and trying to make a political statement with fashion. Learn about politics, vote, and stand up for your rights. Be aware and make informed decisions about who we are electing in to office. We have successfully raised the dumbest generation of young adults who only possess a sense of self and entitlement. If you want to wear a shirt with a disgraced American Flag on it, fine, but go do it on someone else’s soil.”
The $24 t-shirt that was for sale online and at some PacSun stores was being sold as part of rapper A$AP Rocky's clothing line, and also feathers the slogan A$AP on its sleeve with an “A” inside a circle representing “anarchy”. After an overwhelming response from people all over the country calling for a boycott of the brand, the company could now face a loss of millions in sales.
Zawacki-Kuss, who posted the original photo added when asked about the debate of freedom of speech vs. a disrespectful act, “Memorial Day was not the ideal time to bring that shirt front and center. The American Flag is a symbol of freedom that they fought and died for. Seeing the flag used that way was incredibly upsetting to me. …The display was in bad taste, it was disrespectful and insensitive to the sacrifices that have been made by so many service members.”
On Monday afternoon, PacSun decided to stop selling the T-shirt and released the following statement on Facebook and Twitter: “As a retailer grounded in youth culture, PacSun values artistic and creative expression though the brands that we sell in our stores. Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag T-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately. We thank the men and women in uniform for their extraordinary service.”
City Council Will Meet To Hear Public Input As New Hatchery Project Moves Forward
By: Kelly Woodard
Work on the new $18 million hatchery to be built in the downtown Pensacola area is slowly beginning after a long delays, but the city needs your help to ensure the success of the project.
The Florida Wildlife Commission completed biological and archaeological assessments on the property late last year, and all tests have returned giving the property the all clear for the project to move forward. Although the project has been met with some opposition, the City Council gave the project the go ahead after a 5-3 vote approved the land lease that the hatchery requires.
Pensacola’s Quint Studer, who has played an important part in the growth of the city with high dollar projects like the Pensacola Maritime Park, said, “This project will be used to remediate Bruce Beach. Even if the hatchery does not work out, the worse-case scenario is that the city has remediated land which is safe and open to the public for enjoyment and learning.”
As the agreement currently stands, the city would rent Bruce Beach to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for 30 years at an annual cost of $50. The city would also enter into a memorandum of understanding with the state, which would provide for more local input in the design and operation of the facility.
The project has two committees working to make sure that both the hatchery design is carried out in a productive manner and the environmental issues are being addressed every step of the way. Technical Coordination Committee, which handles the environmental factors on the project, will meet on Wednesday, June 3rd at 1 pm at City Hall to discuss concerns and public requests before any construction plan is decided upon.
The public is encouraged to attend this meeting, as both committees, the city council, and city planning board will be on hand to listen to concerns and answer questions before proceeding to the next phase of construction.
Upon completion, the hatchery, which was funded with money from the BP oil spill settlement with the city, will produce some five million inch-long sport fish annually that will be released into the northern Gulf of Mexico in an effort to replenish certain species in our area.
For more information about the Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery and Enhancement Center project or the upcoming city council meeting, visit www.cityofpensacola.com/council.
Fiesta Days Continues On This Week With the Season’s Most Anticipated Events
By: Kelly Woodard
Fiesta season rolls on as the city of Pensacola honors its rich history with more fun filled family events this week.
Kicking off the exciting festivities this week is Centennial Imports of Pensacola 2015 Fiesta Boat Parade this Saturday, May 30th at 1 pm on Pensacola Beach. Come decorate your boat and represent the rich culture that so many flags have instilled in our area.
The parade will start at the mouth of the Bayou Chico and will proceed westward down the shoreline. Don’t have a boat or just consider yourself a land lover? Not to worry. The parade can be seen from the Portofino Boardwalk on Pensacola Beach.
Don't miss the opportunity to join the pageantry of vessels escorting Don Tristan DeLuna’s yacht to the shores of Pensacola Beach where he will be welcomed by Chief Mayoki, his Queen, and tribe at the DeLuna Landing Ceremony.
Admission is free, and boats of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to participate.
Then get ready to dance the night away at the 26th annual Vince Whibbs Automotive Fiesta All Krewe Ball as the Krewe’s get ready to celebrate Fiesta monarchs as they, in turn, honor DeLuna next Thursday, June 4th at 7 pm at the Hadji Shrine Temple. This year’s ‘Cirque de Fiesta’ gala will be an event unlike any other, and attendees are encouraged to wear their krewe’s attire or dress to honor Fiesta’s circus theme.
Compete for bragging rights in the Ball’s several contests throughout the evening that will keep all “gala go-ers” amused for hours. Get ready to cut a serious rug in the Dance Contest. Any style will do, just make sure all dances are appropriate in nature. Routines that contain overtly suggestive material could result in disqualification. All performances should be no longer than five minutes, and dancers must arrive no later than 7:15 pm.
Got two left feet? That’s okay! Enter the Cirque de Fiesta Table Decorating Contest. The morning of the ball, krewes may arrive at 9 am to begin decorating, which must be completed no later than 4 pm. Upon arrival, krewes will be shown to their assigned tables to begin assembling their design. Each krewe must reserve a minimum of one table (ten tickets) in order to be eligible for judging.
Krewes are also invited to participate in this year’s Costume Contest. Judges will evaluate attendee’s attire and select the Best Dressed Krewe as well as the Most Outstanding Individual. Costumes must reflect this year’s theme (circus or your krewe’s theme) to be considered.
All Krewes are invited and the festivities will include live music, Krewe skits/dances, and a presentation of Krewe royalty. Tickets are $35 and include heavy hors d'oeuvres. Tickets are available for purchase at the Fiesta Office (Mon-Thurs 8:30-4:30 & Fri 8:30-Noon) or at the door.
Then on Friday, June 5th at 7 pm, join all Pensacola Krewes for the DeLuna Coronation Ball at the Pensacola Bay Center. For the past 63 years, Don Tristan DeLuna, Pensacola's first citizen, has been honored at this prestigious ceremony. DeLuna LXVI will be crowned in a colorful ceremony accompanied by his Queen and Court.
His presence is honored by the attendance of many former DeLunas and dignitaries from around the state. Guests of this ball will be treated to a Coronation breakfast beginning at 10 pm to close the Fiesta Days Season.
For more information or tickets to any of these Fiesta Days events, call 850-433-6512 or visit www.fiestaoffiveflags.org.
3rd Annual “Shindig on the Sand” Supports the Musicians the Gulf Coast Calls Our Own
By: Kelly Woodard
Summer gets started on the right foot (or left foot if you can’t dance) with the Flora-Bama salute’s the Gulf Coast's finest musicians, the 3rd Annual "Shindig on the Sand", this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 5-7th.
Sponsored by the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce as part of the Flora-Bama’s 51st anniversary celebration, Shindig on the Sand will benefit the Flora-Bama's Gulf Coast Musicians' Assistance Fund (GCMAF), which is intended to keep Gulf Coast music alive by sustaining its musicians in mind, body and spirit. It provides a way for GCMAF to partner with health providers and help cut the high cost of urgent medical care for its musicians. Even a simple, low-cost physical can result in early detection of problems.
This year’s headlining act is country music superstar David Lee Murphy. Murphy made his first appearance on the Billboard country charts that year with “Just Once”, a song from the soundtrack to the 1994 film 8 Seconds. A year later, Murphy's debut album ‘Out with a Bang’ was released; overall, it produced four chart singles.
Murphy’s four albums produced a total of thirteen singles on the country charts, including the Number One hits “Dust on the Bottle”, “Party Crowd”, and “Every Time I Get Around You”. In addition to his own hits, Murphy has also co-written several singles for other artists, including the Number One hits “Living in Fast Forward” for Kenny Chesney, “Big Green Tractor” for Jason Aldean and “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” for Thompson Square.
Other musicians and bands playing this year are: Wayne Toups, Shawna P & Earth Funk Tribe, LeaAnne Creswell, John Joiner, Darrel Roberts, Karen Waldrup, Brian Hill Band, Smokin' Elvis, Hung Jury, Jack Robertson Show aka (Big Earl), Gove Scrivenor, Grayson Capps & Corky Hughes, Kim Carson & the Real Deal, The Springs, J. Hawkins, Lucky Doggs, and Federal Expression just to name a few.
Festivities kick off at noon daily on the Gulf Side. Daily admission is $5 for Shindig on the Sand, and on-site parking will be available. For more information, call 850-492-0611or visit www.florabama.com.
Pensacola Beach Proves To Be One Of the Best On TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Beaches List For 2015
By: Kelly Woodard
As residents of the Gulf Coast, we all know that our beaches are some of the most beautiful in Florida, but thanks to TripAdvisor’s third annual Travelers' Choice Awards which includes the Top 25 Beaches, not only in the U.S., but the world, we now have official bragging rights.
The list for 2015, which will official be posted this Memorial Day weekend, ranks our very own Pensacola Beach at 5 in the US, beating out such other popular Florida beaches like Panama City Beach (#10) and Clearwater Beach (#8). In addition, Pensacola Beach beat out several other exotic beach hotspots like Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, Hawaii (#8), Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Honolulu, Hawaii (#11), and South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida (#21).
The beach rankings, in their third year, are determined by analyzing the quality and quantity of a year's worth of TripAdvisor user reviews of beaches across the globe.
According to an official statement made on the TripAdvisor website, “Pensacola Beach is an undiscovered gem that boasts undeniable beauty with a family friendly atmosphere that is as magnetic to visitors as the sugary white sands that lie next to its emerald waters.” TripAdvisor went on to say that Pensacola Beach beat out other popular choices due to its “tight knit community feel, delightful beachside eateries, and ease of access”.
One of the highest rated TripAdvisor reviews of Pensacola Beach read, “It’s clear that the beaches are beautiful, but what made our trip extra special was the kindness of the people who live there. We met tons of locals who were so inviting and helpful. We have been other places where we never felt this welcome. Do yourself a favor and see this gorgeous beach and hang with the wonderful people that call it home.”
All in all, out of the top 25 beaches listed on the Best List, Florida landed 8 spots, but Pensacola beach ranked #2 for best Florida Beach, just behind Siesta Beach (#1 on the Top 25 in the US list). Not too shabby, Gulf Coast.