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A big welcome for those in uniform
Harbour Point offers a day of fun, fellowship for military families
0622military 1
Mike Atkins launches Michael Kester Saturday at the Harbour Point military appreciation day picnic. Atkins and 8-year-old Michael’s father, also Michael Kester, are U.S. Marines. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Being moved city to city as a military family is hard enough; being stationed in Gainesville is arguably harder. Without a military base for families to live on, many of these families find it hard to relate to civilian friends.

So when residents of Harbour Point community found out, they were eager to help celebrate military families in the area. 

On Saturday, 12 military families enjoyed a day of relaxation at the Harbour Point Yacht Club, with food, games and boat rides. 

“It’s nice to enjoy time with my family, and I am glad that my wife can spend time with other military wives who can understand what she is going through,” said Calvin McCrillis, an Air Force recruiter. 

Harbour Point residents invited families from the Gainesville Armed Forces Recruiting Station, U.S. Army Reserve personnel assigned to the 802 Ordnance Company, and the National Guard personnel assigned to C Company, first Battalion, 121 Infantry, located in Gainesville. 

Also in attendance were two World War II veterans, Martin Aggen and Cecil Boswell. 

“Robert Kelly, who is heading this event, volunteers for Disabled Veterans, and he drives a bus that I ride to the VA clinic. He invited me one day because he knew I was a World War II veteran,” Aggen said.

Kelly said there was an outpouring of community support, both from the Harbour Point community and the Gainesville community, 

“We had four committees help put this event on: a gift bag committee, a boat committee, a venue committee and a food committee. When the gift bag committee went out to ask for donations from local businesses, the businesses were very supportive,” Kelly said. 

Each military family received a gift basket that Kelly estimated valued between $150 and $175. Along with gift baskets, families were entered in a raffle that included a handwoven afghan, fire extinguishers and beer glasses. 

“It was nice to be invited out here today,” Aggen said. “Cecil and I were able to talk about how he was stationed in Europe during the war, and I was stationed in the Pacific. We had very different experiences in the same war.”

Everyone had a good laugh during games that were played, including one about moving from civilian life to military life and vice versa. Civilians who attended raced to put on a flight suit and military guys had to put on a business suit.

Later on in the afternoon, families enjoyed boat rides and tubing on the lake, provided by the residents. Over 75 percent of the residents who attended are veterans themselves.

“It’s great that I get to enjoy today with my family,” said Zach McLane, Navy recruiter. “I am from Maysville, so it’s harder for my wife because she isn’t from here. It’s nice she can connect with other military families.”

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