MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The fifth annual Armed Forces Appreciation Festival attracted large crowds and raised over $9,000 on Saturday, July 13, under sunny skies at Mahopac Marina on Route 6N in downtown Mahopac.

The event was the brainchild of Charlie Melchner Jr., who, along with his family, owns the marina, and his friend, Rich Castellano, a Vietnam veteran and a commander for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). The two came up with a plan to hold a festival to honor and raise money for wounded and disabled vets. It would also introduce the public to the former soldiers and educate about the military.

This year’s event featured booths belonging to an array of veteran-advocacy groups as well as the various branches of the military. Hot dogs, hamburgers and lemonade were served and awards and proclamations were handed out as volunteers went into the street to collect money from passing motorists. There were myriad raffles as well, with an array of prizes donated by local businesses and individuals.

Melchner, who said the festival continues to grow each year, noted that every penny raised will go toward the veterans.