POINCIANA – Ron Brock glanced around at the solid crowds that had turned out, and had to admit he felt as bit humbled by it all.
“I have a hard time calling myself a veteran, even though I fit the definition,” said Brock, who is now on active duty at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. The resident of Newport, N.C. was at Solivita this afternoon, where he was one of 11 members of the Armed Services who were being honored during a special Veteran’s Day celebration. But Brock and his wife Judy and their daughter had actually arrived in Poinciana on Wednesday, and has been hosted at the active adult development throughout the week.
Ron Brock said he’d been surprised by the invitation, and honored by the gratitude that Solivita’s residents were showing him with this special event.
“We’ve been down here since Wednesday,” he said. “We were really surprised. This is really nice. In my 17 years in the military, this is the first event like this that I’ve ever been to.”
Beginning on Wednesday, 11 families of active duty military arrived at Solivita to begin a weekend of celebration and honor. Five families from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky joined six families from the U.S. Central Command in Tampa for activities that included trips to the local theme parks.
Each family was housed in a fully-furnished Solivita model home – known as Discovery Day houses, and normally available for prospective home buyers interested in purchasing a home here. The military families also got treated to a stocked refrigerator and a golf cart for use while on the Solivita property.
Francesca Vereb, Solivita’s director of marketing, said they hope to make this an annual event, with this weekend’s celebration launching what the development on the Polk County side of Poinciana hopes will become a popular tradition around Veteran’s Day.
“The date 11-11-11 sparked some creativity here,” she said. “And we actually have 11 Discovery Days here on the property.”
So Solivita’s administrators and staff teamed up with the members of the Solivita Veteran’s Club to arrange for the families to come visit. It was a way, Vereb said, of thanking and honoring the brave men and women who serve this country.
“We had them come in on Wednesday and they will leave tomorrow afternoon,” she said, adding that the families got free tickets to the theme parks and were treated to special events and activities there.
“We’ve spoiled them with parties and plenty of other things,” she said. “It’s just been this entirely wonderful, exciting tribute to them.”
On Saturday, there were plenty of activities along the walkway that leads past those Discovery Day model homes, including a live band, face painting, two bounce houses for the kids, a raffle ticket drawing, and catered food provided by Bubbalou’s Bar-B-Que.
There was even a magician, Dale Scott, on hand to perform some tricks courtesy of his professional show, Scott’s Crazy Comedy Magic Show.
“Time for a little magic,” he said, as he demonstrated how a blade can go through a balloon without popping it.
“There it is, without popping,” he said, as he withdrew the blade.
“Now that the magic is off the balloon, watch what happens,” he said – and pop went the balloon.
Carl Mulac, the president of Avatar Properties Inc. – which built Solivita and so many of the other developments in Poinciana – said he was pleased to see such a great turnout at this celebration, drawing not just veterans but many families to the property.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s great to see everyone come out. We’ll build on this in the coming years.”
Vereb added that the strong turnout demonstrated that this first Veteran’s Day clearly has the potential to become a tradition.
“It’s been a community event,” she said.
Nick Murdock, a resident of Solivita, said it was also a fitting way to honor this nation’s veterans. Murdock noted that his late father, Joe, also lived at Solivita for several years, and during that time was active with the Solivita Veteran’s Club – even though he was in his 90s.
“He was 94 when he died,” Murdock said. “Before he died, he was the oldest member of the club. My dad followed General Patton all the way through World War II.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.