Veterans and their families came to Jamaica Bay’s Gateway National Recreation Area on June 14 for a Flag Day event filled with water-bourne fun.
The National Parks Conservation Association partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project and the Sebago Canoe Club to encourage veterans to engage with all their local parks have to offer — and park advocates said it was a thrill to celebrate Brooklyn’s local heroes.
“Our goal was to get as many vets and their families out to the park to really inform about the types of recreational opportunities they can take advantage of in New York’s backyard,” said Elizabeth Bowler, a program manager for the conservation association. “We are proud to be honoring our vets and proud to be providing activities for vets and their families in the national parks.”
Veterans were treated to a paddling tour with stunning views of Jamaica Bay, as well as volunteer-led canoeing and kayaking excursions, nature hikes, and arts activities for children.
The event was part of the association’s Find Your Voice campaign, a series of events aiming to educate citizens and inspire them to advocate for their local parks and preserve them for future generations. Advocates hope the Jamaica Bay event will be the beginning of a movement to protect and preserve the area’s parks and natural resources through a network called the Jamaica Bay Advocates.
“We are trying to create more of a long-lasting campaign in and around Jamaica Bay,” said Bowler. “We’re hoping a lot of the people we reached this weekend will want to continue to use their voice over time and protect Jamaica Bay.”