MONTICELLO — Veterans, those currently serving and their family members are invited to take part in Monticello’s 15th Honor Our Veterans Boat Parade and Proud to be an American celebration next month.
The Madam Carroll, Indiana’s largest boat, will host veterans and current military members alike July 6 in honor of their service.
Scott Allen, a current member of the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders and former U.S. Marine, will help plant American flags along each side of the Bill Luse Bridge in recognition of the event.
Many of those participating in the parade will be transported by bus from Lafayette and various Monticello assisted living centers. Veterans will be escorted by the Patriot Guard and AMVETS riders, arriving at the boat at 7 a.m.
A meet-and-greet committee will help register veterans and their family members who plan to board the Madam Carroll. Six Indiana National Guardsmen will be present to assist disabled veterans aboard the ship, with an official boarding time at 8:15 a.m.
“There is nothing like it anywhere in the state,” said Monticello mayor and former U.S. Marine Ken Houston. “(It’s a) one-of-a-kind event in the state of Indiana.”
This year, veterans from the Vietnam era will be especially honored. All Vietnam veterans will get their photograph taken with Houston, given a “proclamation honoring their service” and a commemorative medal. Jerika Schroeder, a 2018 Twin Lakes graduate, will present this year’s medals.
“This is the largest-attended event in the Monticello area,” said Janet Dold, director of the Greater Monticello Chamber of Commerce. “We have 450 veterans and family members on the Madam Carroll. All along Lake Freeman, dwellers line the shore to watch the procession of decorated boats. There is a ski show that is put together by Katie Shuey at 10 a.m. that performs in front of about 250 area residents sitting on the deck of the Sportsman Inn.
“In the afternoon at the city park, there is an estimated crowd of 2,000. This event is amazing.”
Aboard the Madam Carroll, AMVETS Riders will provide coffee and 40 dozen doughnuts from Kinser’s Bakery for those on the vessel. McDonald’s will furnish about 400 cookies for the boat guests. Local Girl Scout Liz Brobst will give a free box of Girl Scout cookies to people boarding the Madam Carroll.
Students from Roosevelt Middle School also composed letters to those who have served in the military, which will be delivered to every military family.
The Honor Our Veterans Boat Parade and Proud to be an American events this year are organized by Kean MacOwan, who has taken over as coordinator for Joe Crivello, one of the founders of the event who stepped down last year and moved away from the area.
“Joe gets an ‘A-plus-plus’ for this outstanding event over the past 14 years,” said MacOwan, who’s been involved with the event for the past seven years. “Joe’s execution and effort directed toward this event has made it what it is today. I have some very large shoes to fill.”
While the Madam Carroll docks and other patriotically decorated boats float under the bridge, the Hooligans Precision Flight Team will perform above the docking boat. Boats can earn awards in different categories for being decorated in patriotic designs.
Participants must register to get aboard the Madam Carroll, and can do so by calling 574-583-9784 Monday through Friday.