For the past 17 years Lora and Kenn Krouse have spent seven to eight months at their winter home in Gulf Shores, Ala. Kenn is the president of the Wisconsin Snobird Club and Lora is his unofficial secretary.
The two are actively involved in the annual “Sno-bird Bratfest,” a multi-club fundraiser for three area fire stations and they helped found the annual Low Country Boil benefit for the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. They also participate in the annual Snowbird Pancake breakfast and encourage members to support the Missouri Club’s annual Trivia Night and other area fundraisers.
The Wisconsin Club has grown from just a couple hundred people when the Krouses first began to “winter” in the area to more than 1,000. This year the group has had more than 450 pre-register and they expect membership to be at or above last season’s levels.
They are avid Green Bay Packers fans and have adopted the Alabama Crimson Tide as their favorite college football team.
Snowbirds Gulf Coast asked Lora and Kenn a few questions.
SBGC: You and Kenn took early retirement from your jobs and made a new winter home on the Alabama Gulf Coast. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make?
Lora: There really wasn’t a lot of adjusting. We met people from the Wisconsin Club and staying at the Lighthouse when we first got down here we met a lot of people there to do stuff with too.
SBGC: You talk a lot about your first winter home here – a rentaal at the Lighthouse condominiums. What make that such a special place?
Lora: The owner at that time was Gauthier King and his staff of people that worked there. They treated you like a queen and was one of the only places that allowed pets. We had a cocker spaniel named Lady at the time. Then we met a lot of people staying there with pets also. We all became a family and still get together for breakfast. We have a reunion once a year at the Orange Beach Community Center still to this day. The old Lighthouse may be gone but we still keep in touch with the people. One other thing at the time that they had was two heated swimming pools where people came together. At that time there were no outdoor heated pools so that was a luxury. I still hang out with my girlfriend Corrinea that worked there at the time. We became very good friends to this day.
SBGC: You have been instrumental in the success of several Snowbird fundraisers including the annual Bratfest which benefits the area fire stations and the Low Country Boil to benefit the Zoo. What do you think is the key to the success of these events?
Kenn: The success is all the sno-bird clubs working together to do the events. Everybody volunteers and helps out. We could not do it without everyone.
SBGC: When people ask you why you winter on the Alabama Gulf Coast, what is your answer?
Kenn: Because there is NO SNOW and freezing temperatures all the time.
SBGC: Your phone seems to ring off the hook from Snowbirds looking for information and businesses looking to connect with the Snowbirds. How do you manage to keep everyone happy?
Kenn: I have a great secretary and she works for free. Also the different clubs share the information.
SBGC: You and Lora have your lake home up for sale in northern Wisconsin and plan to retire here full time. How do you plan to spend your time in the summer here?
Kenn: We plan on going back to Wisconsin for a few months in the summer time. When we are here we get together with neighbors and sno-bird transplants. We’ve never actually done the hot summer here yet and are thinking about putting in a small pool.
SBGC: Do you have any tips for new Snowbirds just arriving to the Gulf Coast?
Kenn: Yes they can stay as busy as they want to be or lay back and take their leisurely time.