MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The South Shore Fishing Association held their annual Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day Saturday off the Marquette County shoreline of Lake Superior.
Boat captains and the veterans performed the customary boat parade along Mattson Lower Harbor, showing off their catch.
SSFA, Veterans Fishing Day Chairman, Mike Paluda says now that the event is in its 6th year, Saturday's turnout brought the biggest turnout to date.
"We were up to 80 boats today and we took about 170 vets out on the water and I think the first year it was like 30 boats and it was kind of small. But everybody really enjoys the event and wants it to continue,” Paluda declared.
Hundreds of people of all ages gathered along the harbor front to cheer them on and show their appreciation.
Paluda is also a member of the SSFA Board of Directors and a veteran of the Vietnam War.
He reasserted the fact that the veterans appreciate the free day of fishing if only to forget the past and see the smiling faces of so many men, women and children.
“A lot of our era veterans are dealing with PTSD from the things they did and saw. So yeah, it's tough,” Paluda asserted
He himself was touched by the entire experience.
“It's a big deal for the vets, particularly people of my era, Vietnam. Since there never was a welcome home. The country fortunately has changed its attitude about veterans that it sends off to war. So it means a lot here I am getting all choked up talking about it,” Paluda divulged.
Afterwards, everyone was treated to a big hog roast with photos and a few fish stories at Tourist Park.