ROXBURY, NJ - American flags lined shorelines and hung off boats at Lake Hopatcong as residents - including a gang from Roxbury - cheered when Miss Lotta’s Third Annual Veterans’ Cruise sailed by on Saturday
There were two cruises for veterans of the towns that surrounded the lake, with modified routes this year to make viewing easier and safer for residents. Roxbury had an official viewing place for the first time this year: Shore Hills Country Club in Landing.
The event was organized by Alice and Bela Szigethy, Chelsea Cone and Lake Hopatcong Cruises. Jefferson Township also provided shuttle services for veterans and their families.
Vincent Gargiulo, 76, of Roxbury, served in the 1960s and went on the cruise for his first time this year. “Just the attention that you get [is great]” he said.
U.S. Marine Corps members saluted the veterans as they boarded the ship and then handed out gift bags to the veterans. As the ship only had 49 seats, an extra boat was provided for the overflow of veterans and their families.
Both cruises made stops along their routes for cannon salutes or bridge ceremonies.
Ralph Nappi, who served in Korea in the 1950s and lives in Landing, was on the first veterans’ cruise in 2015 and still enjoys what the town puts together. “[The community] rolls out the carpet for us,” he said.
A wreath put together by the Daughters of the American Revolution hung on the dock of the boat, boasting red, white, and blue and also had flags of the branches of the military.
“It’s nice to know the community remembers,” Nappi added.
After using a loudspeaker to thank residents at Shore Hills Country Club - the official viewing place for Roxbury - the boat began to head back to the dock where a light lunch would be served. At the lunch, Ashley Shandra was recognized for her Girl Scout Gold Project of stitching 100 pressure pillows for wounded warriors at Walter Reed and veterans.
Before heading back, “On behalf of all Roxbury veterans, thank you,” was projected over the loudspeaker.