Local Veterans Enjoy Annual Picnic

Citrus Heights, CA  |  By Elise Spleiss
  Share this pic with friends!

Guest of Honor Capt. Rebecca Dunavent, US Navy (Retired) (center) with American Legion Post 637 Commander Paul Reyes and Vice Commander Sylvia Thweatt. Photo by Jack Mintz

  Share this pic with friends!

Local "Blue Star Moms”, mothers of active duty military personnel, with a few of the mini boxes of Girl Scout cookies they donated for the event. Photo by Jack Mintz

A Day of Food, Music, Resources and Relaxation for Veteran’s

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - Several hundred veterans and their families braved 100 plus degree temperatures at Rusch Park in Citrus Heights to attend the 8th Annual Veterans Appreciation and Resource Picnic on August 26.

The inspiring music of the Citrus Heights Community Marching Band signaled the official start of the event as the multi-generational ensemble crossed over the Veteran’s Grove’s covered bridge onto the picnic area. Tunes included an eclectic mix of popular music, patriotic pieces, and movie themes by Grammy Award winner John Williams, such as Star Wars. Jurassic Park and Cadillac of the Skies.   

 Additional music was provided by local disc jockey Carlos Verrett. A veteran himself, Verrett entertained his audience with popular songs to complement the speeches, awards and the raffle prizes provided by the community as they were handed out throughout the day.      

The picnic featured the traditional free BBQ lunch prepared by Wild Wade, chicken wings by Buffalo Wild Wings, and hundreds of Girl Scout cookies provided by the Blue Star Moms. 

Dozens of resources for veterans and their families were available to assist attendees.         

Activities for the kids included free woodwork workshops by Home Depot, face painting and crafts provided by the Citrus Heights pageant queens, and Grama ‘V’ creating her unique balloon animals and other creations.

New this year was the close-up magic of roaming magician Joshua Ray, surprising and amazing attendees with his sleight of hand story telling.  Also new this year, Windows to My Soul, an organization which uses horses to transform and heal veterans suffering from PTSD, addictions, and other trauma, brought two of their equine companions to meet picnic goers.

Two ‘Missing Man Tables’ were placed prominently as a reminder to attendees of fallen, missing or imprisoned military service members, and of fallen police officers.

This year’s special guest, Captain MSC, USN (Retired) Rebecca L. Dunavent is a native Californian who served her country for 30 years in the Navy Reserve, entering the Reserve in a medical capacity in 1987.  Through the years she worked closely with all of the Armed Forces in many capacities, including Transportation; as Director, Global Patient Movement Requirement Center; and as  senior officer for the Funeral Honors Detail at NOSC Sacramento where she performed over 300 military funerals. Her final assignment was in 2016 when she served at the Pentagon with Chief of Naval Operations. Dunavent retired in March of 2017.

 Police Sergeant David Moranz was also honored as Police Officer of the Year by AL Post 637 for his 26 years of service in law enforcement, including 10 years with Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD). In his time with CHPD since its inception in 2006, Moranz has worked in the General Investigative Unit as a detective, as a Problem-Oriented Police (POP) officer, and in code enforcement. He is also involved with field training, mentorship, peer support and media relations.

This event was hosted by American Legion Post 637 with support from the community. Sponsors included the City of Citrus Heights, Sunrise Recreation & Park District, Citrus Heights Walmart, Citrus Heights Rotary, Citrus Heights Lions Club and Soroptimist International.