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Veterans dishonored? Jaycee Park group says yes, City of Cape Coral says no

On Wednesday, members of the group, Save Jaycee Park said the City of Cape Coral had removed American flags they had tied to trees at the park to honor military veterans.
Posted at 10:26 PM, Jul 03, 2024

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — On Wednesday, members of the group, Save Jaycee Park said the City of Cape Coral had removed American flags they had tied to trees at the park to honor military veterans.

American flags yellow ribbons veterans
A collection of American flags and yellow ribbons residents used to honor veterans in a display at Jaycee Park in July 2024.

Ahead of the 4th of July holiday, members like Kathy Lopez said they were appalled by the city's actions.

“What I expected of them was to come with the cops and arrest us. But they didn't do that, but this was almost worse,” said Lopez.

Anne Berchtold is the person who came up with the idea to place the American flags on the trees with a veteran's name written on the card.

Anne Berchtold Jaycee park veterans ribbons cut trees
Anne Berchtold told Cape Coral's Community Correspondent Colton Chavez how the trees at Jaycee Park reminded her of the resilience of veterans and their service to their country.

“The trees are very much like our veterans they are deeply rooted in the community,” said Berchtold.

On Wednesday, Berchtold told Fox 4's Cape Coral Community Correspondent Colton Chavez that she feels like it is backlash for the members pushing back against the redevelopment plan the city has for Jaycee Park.

“There is something more to this that they are not telling us,” said Berchtold.

Concerns Colton Chavez took to the City of Cape Coral's City Manager, Michael Ilczyszyn.

Ilczyszyn, who served in the United States Navy said the city would never dishonor those who served.

Michael Ilczyszyn cape coral city manager jaycee park
City of Cape Coral's City Manager, Michael Ilczyszyn, is a veteran and denied claims the city intentionally dishonored a veterans display at Jaycee Park.

“On Purple Heart Day we dedicated a Purple Heart parking space on Veterans Day we dedicated two Veteran parking spaces,” said Ilczyszyn.

Ilczyszyn said the group should have contacted the city’s parks and rec department for approval of the ribbons and he felt confident the outreach would have been approved.

On Wednesday, Colton also asked Ilczyszyn if the city had a personal vendetta against the Save Jaycee Park group members.

Colton Chavez
Cape Coral's Community Correspondent Colton Chavez talks with the city manager about an incident at Jaycee Park.

“As far as a personal vendetta, absolutely not again, this is an across-the-board policy that we have to administer it's in our code which means it's a ministerial act of staff we do not have the discretion to allow otherwise and we have to do it without regard to content,” said Ilczyszyn.