The 5th Annual Patriot Cruise and Salute is Sunday, November 6, 2016 in Gilbert Park.
“FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.” It was bought and paid for by past and present members of the United States Armed Forces. It’s the mantra of Patriot Cruise and Salute (PCS). It is boldly displayed on the back of tee shirts worn by volunteers, many of whom have also served. Anyone who has served has sacrificed and so have their families.
On July 4, 2012, Rozann Abato was inspired when a news channel aired a report about an organization in the Washington, DC area. The organization, Patriot Cruise and Salute, Inc. (PCS) treated wounded veterans and their families to an outing on the Potomac River followed by a picnic lunch and patriotic program. It was a way to say “thank you” for their service and sacrifice. Rozann mentioned it to her husband, Carroll Jaskulski, and they contacted Ed Mason, PCS co-founder. They knew that Lake County is blessed with beautiful waterways and believed that Mount Dora is blessed with patriotic Americans to support a Patriot Cruise and Salute event. They were not wrong!! Their friends, acquaintances, businesses and the City of Mount Dora leadership work with Carroll and Rozann to ensure that everything they need is available for what has grown to be an enormous undertaking.
The 5th Annual Mount Dora Patriot Cruise & Salute event will be held on Sunday, November 6. In 2012, ten veterans were honored. That number has almost tripled and so has private and public participation. Of the 29 veterans scheduled to be honored this year, half are WWII and Korean War veterans. Boat owners from Mount Dora and neighboring towns will host vets and their guests for an adventure on beautiful Lakes Dora and Eustis.
Sea Tow and the LCSO will have boats on the water to ensure safety and assistance. Upon their return to Grantham Point Park, the veterans will be greeted by the Mount Dora High School ROTC, a MDFD ladder truck flying an enormous American flag with a waterfall demonstration, and MDPD cars with lights flashing.
The public is encouraged to bring a flag to wave from the dock when the boats return to Grantham Point Park at 12:00 noon. It is an opportunity to say “THANK YOU” to those who have ensured our freedom. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!! They may also bring a lawn chair and a picnic lunch to enjoy the patriotism at Gilbert Park. The afternoon events usually begin around 1:00 PM.
The veterans and their parties will be escorted to Gilbert Park – some on golf carts donated by the Mount Dora Golf Association. They will enjoy a picnic lunch, the likes of which they have never experienced. Larry Baker, Mount Dora BBQ, volunteers his time and talent to prepare and serve over 160 people including veterans, guests and volunteers. Rick Merrill, a Vietnam veteran, will provide live entertainment during lunch for the fifth year.
After a patriotic program, all veterans will be recognized individually and presented with a Mount Dora PCS Challenge Coin by Col. Ed Mason, co-founder of PCS. All have served and sacrificed. The entire event, on land and water, is documented by professional photographers who donate their time and talent. They are coordinated by Rose Mary Lalonde ( www.image4me.com ) and her husband, Mike. She also maintains the PCS website at www.mountdorapcs.org .