Friday, July 1, 2016
St. John the Baptist Parish - Parish President Natalie Robottom and the Parish Council recently hosted the 11th Annual Veterans Luncheon and the 16th Annual Independence Day Celebration along the River.
President Robottom and her Administrative staff, Parish Council Members, Local, State and Federal Elected Officials, and special guests joined over 450 veterans and their spouses at a luncheon at REGALA Gymnasium in Reserve. The annual event paid homage to veterans and service members with a video tribute during the lunch and also recognized each branch of service with an ovation.
The honorable Governor John Bel Edwards served as the keynote speaker. Edwards served eight years with the US Army as an Airborne Ranger, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division. During his speech, he assured Veterans that although the state is currently undergoing budget cuts, funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs will not experience any cuts. He also alluded to legislation passed since his tenure in office that is focused on protecting veterans and the services they’ve earned. “Independence Day is the greatest day in history because we get to honor the bravest men and woman for the sacrifices they have made for us as a nation,” said Edwards. In addition, Jack Hyman, a resident of the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home in Reserve, shared his patriotism with the audience and comradery from living in the home.
Later that evening, thousands of residents gathered on the grounds of St. Peter’s Church and the St. John the Baptist Church in Edgard to commemorate the holiday with food, fun and music. The event was filmed on the East and West banks of the parish and broadcasted live on the Government Access Channel and the Parish website.
Festivities included raising the U.S. flag, a balloon release, children’s activities, food, and music. The St. John Parish Young Marines led the opening ceremony on the East Bank, and attendees were treated to entertainment by Fusion Dance Group, Aimee’s Dance Academy, Miranda Joseph, Gabrielle Treas and Nakiya Anthony. In Edgard, St. John the Baptist Parish Catholic Church held its annual fundraiser featuring local favorites such as jambalaya, chicken wings and sweets while attendees were serenaded to the sounds of DJ KK. Interviews with Parish Officials, members of the St. John Theatre, Festival Queens, and community leaders were conducted throughout the evening.
To conclude the event, St. John residents and visitors were treated to a remarkable firework show and music at 9:00 p.m. ““We are pleased to host one of the best celebrations in the region in honor of our veterans. They put their lives on the line for our freedoms and this is only a small token of our appreciation,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. “I would also like to thank all of my staff, the St. John Sheriff’s Office, our sponsors and volunteers as we look forward to an even bigger and better celebration next year.”