Cape Coral to host smaller veterans event after parade is canceled

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Eta has put a damper on plans to celebrate our local veterans in Southwest Florida, but it won’t keep us from honoring them completely.

Cape Coral’s Veterans Day parade was already going to look different due to the pandemic as a drive-in event, but it’s now canceled completely. Still, organizers hope to gain help to make sure veterans receive the recognition they deserve.

The City will host a smaller event to honor veterans next week. This backup event will not be open to the public like the drive-in parade scheduled at Sunsplash Family Waterpark, but it’s still a way to make sure every veteran feels appreciated and honored.

“It’s just a day of really remembrance,” said veteran Ralph Santillo, the president of Southwest Florida Military Museum.

“It’s to get to see most of the other veterans, see the patriotism of the community,” said veteran Donald Payton, the president and founder of Hearts and Homes for Veterans. “It means a lot to most all of our veterans in the area.”

Weather rather than the pandemic ended up being the final straw that forced the city to cancel its parade entirely and come up with another type of celebration for veterans.

“That’s really a downer to be honest with you because we’ve celebrated that for the last 10 or 12 years we’ve participated in it,” Santillo said. “I’m sure a lot of the men and women are going to be disappointed.”

“It was kind of a letdown because we really enjoy the parade,” Payton said. “We enjoy getting the float out and showing our best.”

Even though there will be no parade, no bands marching and crowds waving flags, no virus and no storm can erase the sacrifice and the service of those who fought for our freedom.

“Even though we don’t celebrate on this day because of everything that’s going on, we will always remember our veterans,” Santillo said.

If you know a veteran who wants to attend the smaller celebration next week, the City wants you to send his or her contact information via email to, so they can be invited.

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