CRESTVIEW — North Okaloosa County residents expressed appreciation for local active and retired military members on Saturday during the sixth annual Military Appreciation Recognition Ceremony at Old Spanish Trail Park.
The event, organized by the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, featured live entertainment, multiple bounce houses, a car show and various vendors. Free food also was available.
A motorcycle parade featuring Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor kicked off events, followed by the Shoal River Mustang Club’s procession. Polished Ford Mustangs were on display throughout the day.
Crestview High School’s jazz band and First Baptist Church of Crestview’s men’s ensemble choir were among performers.
Kids enjoyed interacting with bomb disposal robots presented by the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal School at Eglin Air Force Base.
"We just wanted to give them a demonstration of what we do just down the road," Lt. Deward L. Cummings III said. "They put this event out to support us; it’s the least we can do to support them."
Active personnel from the 7th Special Forces also attended.
Personnel from each military branch had attended past recognition events. However, several purportedly did not attend this year due to sequestration.
Event organizer Mark Stogsdill, a retired Air Force veteran of 36 years, said the event remains successful because of volunteers and sponsors’ support.
"We have sponsors that donate money that enables us to buy the food for this event," he said. “We never have any trouble raising money, thanks to our sponsors."
The city of Crestview was among 30 event sponsors.
Brodie Williams — among active duty U.S. Air Force troops at Hurlburt field — attended with his wife and two sons, of Crestview, and said he appreciated the effort.
"I like the community coming together, and for all of the support," he said. "This is really good for families to come to."