Even Mother Nature seemed to take her cloudy hat off to honor Kenai’s 4th of July Independence Day parade and celebration. What some officials are proclaiming as Kenai’s largest and most international parade ever was held under picture postcard perfect clear skies and warm temperatures. “Oh my gosh! It was just terrific to see the huge delegation of Boy Scouts from Texas and Australia, it was a surprise and blessing for us to have them here to share America’s Independence Day,” said Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, who led the award winning Kenai All America City delegation float in her decorated golf cart. Also at the front of the parade was Soldotna’s First Family Mayor Peter Micciche with his wife Erin and daughters Madeline, Sophie, and Lucy. “The 4th is so important to all of us and it’s a lot of fun to share this day with Kenai especially after they won their All America City award, and I think this is the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at the parade. A great salute to our flag and the men and women that keep it flying for freedom,” said Micciche.
This years parade grand marshals were Herb Stettler and Jan Bobek who carried in their Cadillac convertible a very special American flag presented to VFW Post #10046 and Ms Bobek. The flag bore a certificate verifying that it had flown in a combat medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan on the 29th of March, 2011. It was presented to Stettler for his continuing work with Vets and their families in Alaska and to Ms. Bobek for her efforts with her students at Soldotna Elementary School to send folded pocket size flags and cards of encouragement to service men and women around the world. “It’s important that the soldiers have a little piece of home with them something they can carry with them to remind them of the freedom here they are fighting for. Each card contains a thank you note from the students and with the help of Herb they learn how to fold a U.S. flag properly and how to respect it,” she said. Over the last few years hundreds of the cards and flags have been sent around the world and a package of some 300 were sent to an Alaskan soldier to distribute where Ms. Bobek’s class was unable to.
“It was a great honor to be selected as grand marshal, I couldn’t imagine and I asked them if they had the right man and when they said yes I was excited to be able to carry this flag that flew during an Afghanistan mission with us in the parade,” said Stettler. A 1952 Korean War veteran Stettler has been associated with military community work ever since the Korean War, “It’s been a continuing service since then and I’ve been proud to be able to do it,” said the VFW Post #10046 chaplain. For more information regarding the Pocket Flag Program contact Jan Bobek at 262-2968.
Independence Day celebration activities continued throughout the day along the park strip with political candidate booths, hot air slides, carnival activities, and hay rides for kids. Selected by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce jury of parade judges for awards this year were Dolifka Farms for best overall entry, Best Organization went to the All America City Kenai delegation, Commercial, to Diamond M Ranch Resort, Youth/School to the KCHS Drumline, and Dennis Effenbeck to best individual honors. Tim Wisniewski’s 1956 Chevy Nomad Pulling a 1956 Hollywood Plywood Mahogany cuddy cabin restored by T&G Builders won for best auto, and Tammy Westover and the Vinzant Family to the best Animals entry. For more parade photos and Chamber information visit www.kenaichamber.com.