Patriotic-themed boats show out in appreciation for military vets and those in service

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) – Boats from all over the Cape Fear took part in the 2nd  annual Veterans Appreciation Boat Parade over the weekend.

The parade was organized to show recognition and respect to local military Veterans and those serving in the military.

Captain Mickey Bigalke is a military veteran and participated in the boat parade.

“To see everybody else join in, all about this family, that’s what we come out for,” he said.

When service men and women serve they sacrifice a lot while performing their duties, according to Bigalke.

“I’ve been gone basically my whole life now I’m home and I get to enjoy these times now, the parades and get together with my family,” he said.

Nearly 30 boats, on Saturday, were adorned with flags, banners, and ribbons to go with the patriotic theme to celebrate veterans and those serving in the military.

Frank Helin is also a Veteran and was part of the boat parade.

“To be able to acknowledge the contributions of local Veterans and just kind of hold them up for a few minutes while we had a lot of fun on the boat was terrific,” he said.

The Veterans Appreciation Boat Parade was canceled about two weeks ago but on Saturday the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky and the boats were on the water.”

Boats lined up at Masonboro Inlet near the Coast Guard Station, then headed toward Motts Channel to the Intracoastal Waterway, the convoy then headed north to the Wrightsville Beach Bridge before turning south toward Masonboro Island.

Spectators weren’t in short supply; Joan Bennett was one of them.

“Anytime you can display patriotism and a love for veterans it’s just wonderful, Wilmington offered this beautiful day to us, it was a perfect parade,” she said.

The boat parade was created by John Mcintyre and Blair Poteate to do just that, show patriotism and love for those in the U.S. Armed Forces.

According to boat parade participant Mark Venters, this small gesture goes a long way.

“I think something like is just a great appreciation, and I know we did it last year and we plan on doing in it the in future,” he said.

This is the first of many events associated with the 2022 Southeast N.C. Veterans Day Parade is scheduled for November.

Prize money for the most patriotic decorated boats increased to one thousand dollars each thanks to a $4,000 donation from local businessman Kevin Ullman.


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