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Musical salute kicks off Independence Day festivities in Cape Coral

By Staff | Jul 4, 2011
Dotty Fitzgerald listens to the Tribute to America Concert, Monday at the Veterans Pavilion in the Veterans Memorial Area of Eco Park. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA
Voice of patriotism Jennifer Gilmore sings the National Anthem at the beginning of Tribute to America Concert, Monday. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA
Jaycine Lester sings along to a patriotic tune during the Tribute to America Concert, Monday. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA

A crowd of nearly 150 people filled the Eco Park Pavilion at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve Monday morning to listen to patriotic songs from the different war eras of the United States in celebration of the Fourth of July.
Before the concert began a presentation of colors was given, which was followed by the “Star Spangled Banner” and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor John Sullivan also gave a short speech before the music filled the air. He said he wanted to give a special thanks to all of the folks who worked to put the concert together.
“They did a fantastic job,” Sullivan said.
George Colom, who put together the “A Tribute to America” concert, said Sullivan called him three weeks ago Friday and asked if he could put a concert together for the Fourth of July. He said after a few calls he was able to make it happen.
“Everything was good,” he said, smiling about the performance. “We have terrific talent in this town.”
Cape Coral resident Yvonne Sanner attended with her husband, a veteran of World War II. She said the concert was wonderful.
“It is wonderful that they honored everyone,” Sanner said about all the veterans who served in the different branches of the military.
Halfway through the concert each branch of the service was recognized as members in the audience were asked to stand while their flag waved in the wind as the cast sang the “Armed Service Medley.”
As Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Air Force veterans stood, the crowd applauded them for their service.
Some of the songs the cast of the Cultural Park Theatre sang included “Coming to America,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Impossible Dream,” “Strike up the Band,” “Amazing Grace” and “Never Walk Alone.”
The crowd sang along, tapped their feet and, at times, stood up and danced to the music Monday.
Sanner said she remembered a lot of the songs they sang.
“Some of them touched me so much,” Sanner said with tears in her eyes. “What a wonderful thing they did in Cape Coral today.”
Lisa Kuchinski, a member of the cast of the Cultural Park Theatre, said they found out a week ago that they would be singing Monday morning. She said she thought the concert was awesome even though they had a few technical problems.
“It was meant to honor them (veterans) and thank them for their service,” Kuchinski said.
The music that was sung during “A Tribute to America” was taken from The Cultural Park Theatre production “Reveille Revue” that was put on in May.
Director of the Cultural Park Theatre Michael Moran said the whole point of the production in May was to bring forth patriotic and American songs, while reaching out to all the veteran groups in the area.
He said the theater rebated ticket sales back to the veterans groups as a way to reach out and support them.
The performance Monday afternoon ended with the cast of the Cultural Park Theatre singing “God Bless America” as the crowd stood on its feet singing along, while waving American flags in the air.
Ralph Santillo, president and founder of Invest in America Veterans Foundation, said he was surprised to see the size of the crowd that gathered under the pavilion for the concert.
“I am happy,” he said about how everything turned out.
Santillo said he was glad to see the older generation and the younger generation come together to sing the many patriotic songs.
“The younger kids to step up with the old timers makes you feel good about the country,” he said.
Santillo said they certainly will hold the concert once every year if not more often.
Moran said with the amount of time they were given to pull together the concert, he is very happy with how it all turned out.
“It was wonderful,” he said.
The “Reveille Revue,” Moran said is going to be a growing event at the theater every year.
He said the next performance is going to be “America Loves George M. Colom.”