With the celebration of our nation’s independence near, Red, White and Tahoe Blue officials are ensuring plenty of entertainment and heartfelt thanks are planned for veterans and currently-serving soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
“The events that commemorate our freedom and salute our veterans are planned throughout our three-day festival,” said Bob Wheeler, Chief Master Sergeant, US Air Force (retired).
Wheeler, who is a RWTB board member, annually volunteers to coordinate many of the events.
The celebrations and commemorations begin July 3 with the festival’s traditional Flag Retirement Ceremony on the edge of Hyatt Regency Beach at 8:30 p.m.
The traditional retirement of “Old Glory” is a stirring and solemn moment orchestrated by local Boy Scouts of America Troop 37 and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.
Anyone with an American flag they would like to retire should bring it to the Incline Recreation Center at 980 Incline Way by July 2, or bring it to the ceremony on July 3.
On Independence Day, local veterans will fuel up for the day’s festivities at the annual Lions Club Pancake Breakfast, from 8 a.m. to noon at Aspen Grove.
This fundraiser is open to the public, with tickets at $10 for adults and $8 for children eight and under.
From there, veterans and their families will cross the street to Incline Beach for the annual Veterans Tribute, starting at 12:10 pm.
Brigadier Gen. Joseph Shaefer, USAF retired, and Wheeler will introduce attendees in historical order, starting with World War II vets, followed by those who served in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We are always pleased to have some of our active duty individuals attend and become part of the festivities,” said Wheeler. “We encourage beach-goers to come by and shake the hands of the men and women who have served our country, and continue to serve, to preserve our independence.”
The celebration continues with the annual Parachute and Rescue Demonstration at 1 p.m. above the beaches at Incline Village, when 22 members of the Lodi Parachute Center free fall from a Twin Otter civilian aircraft into the blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
Immediately after, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Raven aircraft will conduct a simulated rescue exercise for veterans and all in attendance on Incline Beach.
On July 5, the public is invited to join veterans at the ceremonial Flag Raising at the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District’s Main Firehouse (Station 11).
This free event starts at 8 a.m. and is facilitated by the Boy Scouts of America Troop 37 and sponsored by the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Veterans Club.
Traditions continue afterward at the station with the annual Fire House Pancake Breakfast, which is free to the public.
Then, it’s pancakes-to-parades as veterans embark on their specially-decorated float and participate in the community’s “Tahoe Salutes Our Heroes” parade.
“Every year the veterans take great pride in decorating their float,” noted Wheeler. “It’s quite festive and always includes all of the Service flags as well as POW MIA flags and of course, the American flag.”
After the parade, veterans and their families will head to Aspen Grove for lunch sponsored by Cornerstone Community Church and offered by Brimm’s Catering.
Veterans, active duty personnel, families of fallen heroes and deployed military will dine for free. All others are invited to dine for $14.
Required reservations and pre-payment for lunch can be made by calling 775-832-1310 or by visiting the Incline Village Recreation Center.
The final acknowledgment of our nation’s armed forces begins at 12:45 p.m. at the Community Fair on the Village Green. This all-American salute will open with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by performances of the National Anthem and God Bless America, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
In addition to these Veterans events, the 2014 RWTB festival offers 20 other events for locals and visitors, For a complete schedule, visit www.RedWhiteTahoeBlue.org.