Good folks of Gulf County, take this evening and Friday afternoon as the interactive portion of the program.


Good folks of Gulf County, take this evening and Friday afternoon as the interactive portion of the program.

The Forgotten Coast Warrior Weekend began Wednesday with the arrival of 20 warriors, families, caregivers and mentors and today organizers are hoping for a little community interaction to fuel a weekend of embrace.

The “Honor Parade” for the warriors will depart from WindMark Beach at 5:30 p.m. ET, headed into Port St. Joe proper. (see box for parade route)

Churches, civic organizations and individuals have already signed up to fall into formation at various locales along the parade route and organizers encourage all residents and visitors to plant themselves along the parade route between 5:30-6 p.m. to provide a welcoming salute to the warriors.

Take it from those who have attended, it is a sight that does not easily leave the memory.

“Coming here to the Forgotten Coast, that is some name, because I am not going to forget,” said Sgt. Major Jesse Acosta, who has attended the event and served as a keynote speaker for the Honor Banquet.

“This is about the warriors and also those spouses and caregivers who continue to hang in there. By extending those arms, extending that hand, if we forget it is not because we want to but because of our issues. But the memory of this (event) will come back.”

On Friday, at the conclusion of the Warrior Offshore Classic fishing event, during which 20 captains donate their time and services to provide the warriors a fun day on the water, folks are urged to gather at the Port St. Joe Marina.

There, between 1-5 p.m. ET, the warriors will be bringing in their catch for weighing and a bit of revelry, refreshments and fish tales.

The public is encouraged to attend and meet and greet the warriors – or just clap some hands at the fish.

The warriors will be out and about around the county throughout the weekend, enjoying everything from some boating and kayaking on St. Joseph Bay, the Tupelo Honey Festival or horseback riding on the beach.

Event t-shirts are available at the Piggly Wiggly and Bluewater with all proceeds supporting the Forgotten Coast Warrior Weekend.

Please note, the Warrior Weekend is a grassroot, all-volunteer effort.

And should anyone doubt the effort is noticed by the warriors, one past participant will set the record.

“You guys pour your hearts into this event,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. (Ret.) Glen Silva, who has attended Warrior Weekend as both participant and mentor.

“Every warrior and caregiver feels it, it is genuine. That town opens its doors and that is unique.”