Lake Wales Honors Local Retired Service Members WithVeterans Day Parade
by James Coulter
Lake Wales honored its armed services members, both active and retired, with a parade through downtown on Veterans Day.Several dozen units participated in the parade, which started near City Hall along Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, traveled along Central Avenue, and ended at Lake Shore Boulevard.
Attending this year’s parade were several members of the Lake Wales City Commission, Lake Wales High School Band, JROTC, Knights of Columbus, Lake Wales VFW, and Ya’llCome Back Saloon.
Andy Anderson, Commander Post 71, was in charge of this year’s parade. The last parade he was involved in was six years ago. As a someone who served in the Air Force in Vietnam from 1971 to 1976, he appreciated being able to congregate with his fellow service members and celebrate their legacy in the U.S. Armed Forces.
And as someone who has resided in Lake Wales for 40 years, he enjoys living in a small hometown where he knows everybody and can see everybody honoring them on this momentous occasion, he said.
“I enjoy seeing all the veterans who come out,” he said. “My expectations is for people to be on the street honoring our veterans. God Bless America, and we are still the greatest country in the world because of our veterans.”
Kathryn Gates-Skipper is a local retired U.S. Marine who served 20 years in active reserve and became the first female marine in combat operations, with her achievements inducting her into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. She is married to an Army veteran, and they have had two sons together: one in the Navy, and one in the Air Force.
As someone who has lived in Lake Wales for the past 25 years, she loves the overall camraderie of the Veterans Day event, as well as the close-knit community of her small hometown.
“I think it is great anytime we can do things with our community,” she said. “I am glad to see a lot of people who turned out because this is important to support our veterans. My heart is overjoyed to see so many people today…We all come together as one no matter what background…That is what I like about Lake Wales, it is a small community and we stick together.”