Columbus Day parade makes a comeback to Golden Gate

— The Columbus Day parade is back. For the past two years, Golden Gate missed the traditional parade. But that is all about to change, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the Knights of Columbus, Chapter 4357, and Corporal James Klewicki, a community-oriented police officer with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Known for its wholesome family fun, this year’s Columbus Day parade brings together the entire community from businesses to volunteer organizations, high school bands, and honor guards representing local fire and police and emergency services departments, just to name a few of this year’s parade participants. It is characteristically a deep part of the normally annual event in the Golden Gate community, and one that event organizers are hoping will be a parade to remember come this October. While organizers are calling this the 13th annual parade, the event had to be cancelled in the past due to unforeseen circumstances.

“We have many organizations involved so far, and we are looking for more people to come out to participate in the events that day,” said Klewicki, who has already collaborated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, local classic car clubs, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Boy Scouts of America, Golden Gate High School’s JROTC Honor Guard, Latin bands, and local preschools so far to march in the annual parade.

“Any businesses with a decorated car are welcome, and please call the Knights of Columbus for more information to become involved,” Klewicki said. “It’s a good opportunity for businesses to reach out to the community.”

Chris Kehl, parade organizer with the Knight of Columbus, agreed. “We are inviting everybody we can to participate, and James Klewicki has been a great help. We all thank him for his efforts and for what he is doing to help coordinate the parade.”

At the start of the parade, there will be a vibrantly dressed contingent of Knights of Columbus members from both chapters in Naples, in a massive float built in the likeness of Columbus’s flagship. And Kehl is hoping that more of his fellow Knights will also get involved in the event. “We have a lot of last minute entrants, and already the parade is huge with the number of people signing up,” said Kehl.

“The Knights of Columbus is a charitable organization, and we are donating the proceeds from the advertisers in the parade booklet to local charities. We are looking forward to having people get together, and give back to the community,” said Kehl, who will also be overseeing the staging area of floats at St. John Neumann’s parking lot at 9 a.m. on October 16.

The parade will wind through the streets of Golden Gate city, and conclude with a placement of a wreath at the memorial statue of Christopher Columbus, where participants and parade residents are welcome to partake in a community barbecue.

“Times are tough, so what a better way to come together for a community celebration,” Klewicki said of the Columbus Day parade, which will be warmly welcomed back to Golden Gate.

If You Go:

13th Annual Columbus Day Parade in Golden Gate

Parade start time begins at 10 a.m. on October 16. It will begin at St. John Neumann High School and conclude at the Golden Gate Community Center and Government Complex.

Those interested in volunteering and participating can call Chris Kehl at 601-4995 for more information.

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