Mount Dora Honors Veterans at the 4th Annual Patriot Cruise and Salute

Veterans and volunteer at Patriot Cruise and Salute

Mount Dora celebrated the Veterans of American military service on Sunday, November 8 with a Patriot Cruise and Salute in Gilbert Park.

The Patriot Cruise and Salute is program designed to honor the veterans of military service, along with their families.  The day’s activities include a morning boat ride, fellowship with fellow veterans and their families, a patriotic program in honor of the veterans, and a meal shared among vets and their families, with the volunteers who support the event.

Rozann Abato and Carroll Jaskulski, the couple who organize the annual event, honored 23 veterans this year.  Two WWII veterans attended. Veterans from North and South Florida joined Central Florida honorees, with one vet coming from South Carolina to participate.

The Mount Dora High School ROTC, Mount Dora Police Department Honor Guard, Mount Dora Parks and Recreation Department, and the Mount Dora Fire Department joined together with the 80 volunteers, and 15 boats and their captains to welcome and host the vets and their families.

Larry Baker, from Main Street Leasing, has cooked for the attendees for the past four years – providing food and servers for the meal that this year served 150 attendees.  Local bed and breakfasts supplied discounted or free rooms – the Grandview Bed and Breakfast was filled with vets and their families, at no charge to the guests.  There were many who came forward from Mount Dora to offer support.

Below is a photo summary of the Veterans Day appreciation program – The Mount Dora Patriot Cruise and Salute:

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Vets gathered in the morning in Gilbert Park and were then escorted down to the docks to their boats. Those who needed assistance were transported to the docks in golf carts that were provided at no charge by the Mount Dora Golf Association.
Ed Tillet's bugle added a somber touch to the event and was appreciated as the vets gathered and went off to enjoy the lake for the morning.
Ed Tillet’s bugle added a somber touch to the event and was appreciated as the vets gathered and went off to enjoy the lake for the morning.
Honored vets, along with families, their boat captains and hosts were off on a relaxing cruise of Lake Dora for the morning.
Honored vets, along with families, their boat captains and hosts were off on a relaxing cruise of Lake Dora for the morning.
A trip down the Dora Canal was enjoyed by all.
A trip down the Dora Canal was enjoyed by all.
It wouldn't have been a family day without the children and grandchildren.
It wouldn’t have been a family day without the children and grandchildren.
The Mount Dora Fire Department provided a fitting welcome to the boaters returning to Gilbert Park after their boat rides.
The Mount Dora Fire Department provided a fitting welcome to the boaters returning to Gilbert Park after their boat rides.
Crowds of residents and volunteers, waving flags, gathered on the docks to welcome the vets in.
Crowds of residents and volunteers, waving flags, gathered on the docks to welcome the vets in.
A brief program acknowledged some of the people who made the event possible, including awards. This is Peter Marini, from Triangle Bingo, who donates to the funding that makes the event possible.
A brief program acknowledged some of the people who made the event possible, including awards. This is Peter Marini, from Triangle Bingo, who donates to the funding that makes the event possible.
Chris Rapp, with his wife and daughter. Chris, a Marine veteran himself, has volunteered and worked supporting the event for the past three years - this year, he was surprised - he was one of the 23 honorees, but didn't know it until he arrived to work again.
Chris Rapp, with his wife and daughter. Chris, a Marine veteran himself, has volunteered and worked supporting the event for the past three years – this year, he was surprised – he was one of the 23 honorees, but didn’t know it until he arrived to work again.
Rick Merrill, veteran, worked the event again this year and was acknowledged with an award for providing sound equipment and music for the event.
Rick Merrill, veteran, worked the event again this year and was acknowledged with an award for providing sound equipment and music for the event.
Michael Mooney, a vet, helped with the setup and food service.
Michael Mooney, a vet, helped with the setup and food service.
Larry Baker from Main Street Leasing cooked all of the food again this year.
Larry Baker from Main Street Leasing cooked all of the food again this year.
Mayor Hoechst provided a welcome message to the gathering, on behalf of the City of Mount Dora.
Mayor Hoechst provided a welcome message to the gathering, on behalf of the City of Mount Dora.
Mount Dora's ROTC presented the colors.
Mount Dora’s ROTC presented the colors.
Rozann Abato, in addition to organizing the event, emceed the patriotic programming.
Rozann Abato, in addition to organizing the event, emceed the patriotic programming.
And then it was time to serve the "picnic." It was quite a meal, with prime rib being the star.
And then it was time to serve the “picnic.” It was quite a meal, with prime rib being the star.
There was face painting and playground time for the little ones.
There was face painting and playground time for the little ones.
The meal, shared among honorees, their families and the volunteers - was enjoyed by all.
The meal, shared among honorees, their families and the volunteers – was enjoyed by all.

There were so many meaningful moments, moments that were in turns joyful, touching or somber.  But we will close with these last two photos.  This year, Rozann Abato surprised WWII veteran, Seymour Doctor (Doc) by presenting him with the flag, delivered by the police honor guard.  As he was handed the flag, Doc, who offers the closing prayer each year, bent his head down to tearfully kissed the colors…

The honor guard folds the flag to present to Seymour Doctor, WWII vet
The honor guard folds the flag to present to Seymour Doctor, WWII vet
WWII veteran Seymour Doctor
WWII veteran Seymour Doctor

 

Melissa DeMarco, Editor (meldemarco@comcast.net)
All Photos By: Rose Mary Lalonde – www.image4me.com