Apr. 28—THUMBS UP to everyone involved in making this weekend a fun-filled community celebration — and to everyone participating.
Downtown McAlester is set to be active on Saturday with the Armed Forces Day Parade starting at 10 a.m. and the return of the Grillmarks Festival following that afternoon.
Festivities begin with the McAlester-area's Armed Forces Day Parade, which will honor the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.
"We believe we can do this right and honor our military," Armed Forces Day Chairman Jeff Wolf told us.
Armed Forces Day is a day to honor all branches of the military and is celebrated on the third Saturday each May, although McAlester's Armed Forces Day is usually held the first weekend in May.
Last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — making anticipation for this year's event even greater.
There won't be a luncheon, but check out our Facebook page Friday for the livestream of the keynote address by U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Matt Fitter, a McAlester native.
Saturday's parade participants include the 77th U.S. Army Band out of Fort Sill in Lawton, a World War I artillery half-section, the Choctaw Nation Color Guard, Choctaw princesses, Shriners and more.
The event will include a flyover and a community block party — followed by the community-friendly Grillmarks Festival and steak cookoff.
"The goal is for everybody just to get out and enjoy each other, enjoy being able to be around other people and taste some great food," Grillmarks Festival organizer Jeremy Beaver told us.
It will feature a steak grilling competition, games, cookout food, and more along Choctaw Avenue starting around noon Saturday.
Local musicians like Bebo and the Evildoers will perform live to bring a block party atmosphere to downtown McAlester.
We thank organizers for putting everything together and hope everyone has an opportunity to participate in the festivities.
----THUMBS UP to local Special Olympians for their achievements on the lanes.
Stuart Public Schools recently honored several Special Olympian bowlers and coaches during a ceremony by presenting them state championship rings.
The athletes saw their season cut short and couldn't participate at the national event due to the COVId-19 pandemic, but the ceremony brought smiles and hugs for everyone involved.
Coaches LaDonna Bunch and Denise Russell said they enjoyed being part of the effort.
"They're a joy," Russell told us. "They bring us lots of joy here to the school."
Five student mentors became partners to the Hornet bowlers. The pairs consisted of Weston Reed and Ryan McNully, Payton Bennett and Dylan Sanford, Natalie Hutchings and Dylan McPhetridge, Skylar Hutchings and Hunter Brown, and Garrett Caywood and Brayden Kerns.
We congratulate everyone involved for their success and creating memories that will last a lifetime.