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St. Andrews puts on popular Halloween event after Hurricane Michael destruction


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PANAMA CITY — Hurricane Michael might have stolen homes and businesses, but no wind is strong enough to steal the community’s spirit.

On Saturday afternoon, downtown St. Andrews exemplified the local effort to carry on and continue business following the widespread destruction.

“Spirit of St. Andrews,” a Halloween community event, went on as originally planned, though on a smaller scale, bringing businesses and locals together for a spirited celebration in the historic district.

Many businesses downtown, now with inhabitable venues, operated by booths on sidewalks on the main avenue in St. Andrews, selling goods, providing crafts and giving out candy to visitors.

“The purpose of this is to let the community know we are still here,” said Ben Liggin, owner of Native Spirit Museum and Gallery. “Those of us whose stores are destroyed, we’ll be back.”

Liggin’s business is one of just a few with a roof intact.

According to Liggin, the Keep St. Andrews Salty group, which spearheads the event each year, made the decision to keep the event following the hurricane to help support locals and promote business, despite the destruction.

“Most of the other shops down the block have significant roof and ceiling and floor damage,” he said.

Still, the event brought in an estimated 400 people from 2-5 p.m., many of whom came dressed for the occasion.


Kathie Smith, owner of Gypsy Beach Treasured Creations in St. Andrews, has considerable damage to her building, but no plans of quitting.

“This is my business,” she said. “This is where I belong.”

Smith, who opened her business in honor of her late sister, will be open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. right outside her building.

“We’ve all got trees everywhere. We’ve all got roof damage. We’ve all got houses torn up,” she said. “It’s important to get some sort of normalcy.”

Brad Stephens, owner of Sunjammers, shared the sentiment. He said he wanted to participate to show that St. Andrews is not closed.

“We are coming back actually better than ever. This was our way to give back to the community,” he said. “Turnout was unbelievably amazing. There were tons of families — more families than an average Saturday.”

Stephens said he believes the event proved people are ready to be part of the community again.

After the success of the makeshift market, many vendors who participated in Spirit of St. Andrews are hoping to continue business by operating alongside the St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market, which will return to the area on Saturday.

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