Editor’s note: Henry Schulte is a News-Press columnist and the founder of the Santa Barbara County Veterans Foundation.
By HENRY SCHULTE
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-PRESS
Hundreds of people showed up for the second annual Salute to the Vets Saturday at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez.
The program, which was presented by the Santa Barbara County Veterans Foundation, began at 11 a.m. with a parade up Sagunto Street, coupled with a flyover directly over the parade by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Officers Black Hawk helicopter.
The helicopter turned on its siren, which brought a roar from the crowd. (The Black Hawk is used for rescues as well as fighting fires.)
Al Salge, a lieutenant colonel, who oversees the Solvang Veterans’ Memorial Building and veteran activities in the Santa Ynez Valley, served as the parade’s grand marshal.
Around noon at the Maverick Saloon, the Santa Ynez Jazz Band played three patriotic songs to kick things off.
That was followed by Art Kaslow, a colonel who served 33 years in the U.S. Army. He offered a short speech with words of appreciation and support of local veterans. Col. Kaslow presented a check for $2,500 from the Santa Ynez Valley Opportunity Shop to the veterans foundation. As the nonprofit’s founder, I received it on behalf of the foundation.
Fred Cota stepped on the stage and presented another check to the veterans foundation in the amount of $1,000 from Santa Barbara Elks Lodge No. 613.
Jerry Farmer, president of the Santa Barbara County Veterans Foundation, thanked all those who made the event possible. “An event like this takes a lot of people, and the valley showed us what community is all about. We thank you.”
Last year Mr. Farmer suggested holding the Salute to the Vets in the Santa Ynez Valley so he could put on a parade. With Santa Barbara’s State Street closed to parades, the foundation decided to give it a try, and it worked.
This year’s event overshadowed last year’s, and plans are already under way to make Salute to the Vets even bigger and better in 2023.
A number of local veteran organizations were present last weekend. The Maverick Saloon provided food and drink, and the atmosphere was very festive-filled with lots of smiles, hugs and handshakes.
A pin-up contest took place inside the Maverick, and the first-, second- and third-place winners were announced around 2:30 p.m. as well as the winner of the hand-made flag quilt, made by Dundie Schulte.
Proceeds from the event allowed the Santa Barbara Veterans Foundation to donate more than $7,000 to local veteran causes.
“We’re not a big organization, and we’re not just about the money. But keeping an awareness of local veterans is equally as important to us,” Mr. Farmer said.
The afternoon rocked to the sounds of the Molly Ringwald Project, and people danced away until 4:30 p.m. when the event concluded.
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