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Great American Picnic offers variety of activities

By Staff | Jul 4, 2010

Cafe Pignoli’s proved that nothing is more American than apple pie on the Fourth of July.
As part of Cape Harbour’s annual Great American Picnic on this country’s greatest holiday, the gourmet cafe hosted an apple pie contest. Six Cape Coral residents submitted pies for judging and the winners were Rachel Dawson, first place for “Cece’s Surprise,” Fran Breslin, second place for a rum raisin apple pie and Liz Hinkley, third place for “Red, White and Blueberry.”
Some of the other pies in the contest included an old fashioned apple pie on whole wheat, cranberry walnut and french apple.
Steve Opp served as a judge in the best pie contest. This was his first year judging, he said, even though organizers from Cape Harbour asked him to be part of the contest last year. Since he is an on-call pilot, he missed last year’s judging at the last minute. But, he tries to attend the Great American Picnic each year.
“It’s always good to come and support the local places here in Cape Coral,” he said, adding that Cape Harbour has a great combination of people, from young to old.
The picnic was open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. but sporadic rain showers forced some people home early. The event featured live music from Chris the DJ and “Juke Box Hero” and performances from the Calendar Girls and others.
Officials estimate that close to 1,000 people attend the Great American Picnic each year.
One of the regular organizations at the picnic is the Adopt-A-Troop Foundation. They collect donations throughout the year to send care packages for troops serving overseas. Kaye Caple, founder of Adopt-A-Troop, said in the last two and a half years she has sent 1,542 boxes to troops. Each of the care packages are full of items that soldiers request and cost $65 each to ship.
“I have ten units that I support, they range from 30-800 soldiers,” she said.
Caple and other foundation staff were not only asking for donations on Sunday, but they were selling T-shirts, badges and pins to anyone attending the picnic and rolling the proceeds over into the cost of shipping care boxes. As of this week, Caple said she has the capital to ship 100 boxes but wants to send more.
“We’d like to get over 1,000 because I have boxes ready,” she said.
Behind their booth at Cape Harbour was a giant banner which they asked people to sign with markers. It thanked the troops for serving.
Contributing to the event’s focus on honoring the country and its military personnel, staff from Southeastern Guide Dogs were also present at the Great American Picnic. This organization trains dogs to help the blind, many of which are veterans who lost their sight while serving, said Roy Kennedy, area coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
So far the local arm of the organization helped place 100 dogs with blind veterans. Each dog undergoes training from when they’re 9 weeks old to 14 weeks, he said, and a couple of months after that before receiving their assignment.
“Generally, when you lose your eye sight, it is so traumatic you do years of rehabilitation before you get a dog,” he said.
Standing next to Kennedy was a full grown yellow Labrador Retriever, and two “puppies in training,” which were two Labrador retriever puppies, one yellow and one black. He said the Labrador retriever is their preferred breed, but they also train Golden Retrievers and Smooth Collies.
Lt. Col. Kathy Champion, a veteran living near St. Petersburg, was the first female veteran to be assigned a guide dog from the organization after losing her vision, he said.
For more information on the Adopt-A Troop Foundation, visit www.adoptatroop.net, and to learn more about the Southeastern Guide Dogs visit www.guidedogs.org.
A listing of future events at Cape Harbour is available at www.capeharbour.com.