Preparing for Veterans Day: Casa Grande’s Art Contest Bridges Generations

As Veterans Day approaches in just a few weeks, the Casa Grande Veterans Day Parade committee is working diligently to make preparations. One of their prominent initiatives is the Casa Grande Veterans Day Art Contest, which targets local students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Recently, members of the parade committee, including Kim Vandenberg, Clara Estrada, and Steve Corrao, visited the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sun Corridor at the Community Recreation Center to generate interest in the competition among the youth.

In front of an eager and enthusiastic group of children, Vandenberg, Estrada, and Corrao elaborated on the art competition and the exciting prizes available for budding young artists.

Corrao, a Coast Guard veteran and the brain behind the art contest idea three years ago, engaged the kids with questions like “What do they think a veteran is?” and “Raise your hands if any family members have served.” The children enthusiastically raised their hands and posed questions, showcasing their genuine interest.

Corrao emphasized the importance of veterans connecting with school children to discuss their service to the country. He expressed pleasant surprise at the children’s enthusiasm when discussing veterans. He said, “They do have the interest, especially if they have a veteran in the family. If the kids don’t have a veteran in the family, I don’t think the idea is there. We’re not trying to influence them; we’re just trying to show these kids that veterans are out there. They (the children) make their own decision, but we want to let them know that veterans are out there and they did this for all of us and not just for themselves.”

Vandenberg was thrilled with the children’s response and was impressed by the many questions they had. She said, “It’s just wonderful to start instilling patriotism in their minds from a young age. We owe this idea to Steve because he’s the one who came up with this art contest a couple of years ago. Just seeing the excitement on their faces – I think the younger group might not fully understand, but they were just excited to draw. It was heartening to see the interest, especially among the older kids who knew the branches in which their parents had served.”

The art contest features cash prizes in various age categories. Winners from kindergarten to fifth grade will receive $100 for first place, $50 for second, and $25 for third. For the higher grades, first place will receive $250, second $150, and third $75.

Artwork submissions can encompass drawings or paintings created with materials like pencils, charcoal, colored pencils, oil paints, or mixed media/collage.

Vandenberg mentioned that over the three years since the art competition’s inception, they have received many remarkable artworks. She recalled a touching submission from two sisters who each drew a family member – one drew their grandpa, and the other depicted their dad, both of whom were veterans from different eras. The sisters’ collaborative artwork was so outstanding that it was submitted for a Veterans of Foreign Wars state competition.

The judging of the artworks will take place immediately after the parade, and Corrao hopes that many of the children will attend the parade to make the experience even more engaging. He emphasized the importance of involving kids in the event, as he fears that future generations might forget the significance of honoring veterans. He remarked, “I noticed a concerning trend a few years ago, where it seemed like everyone was drifting away. I think that in just the two years we’ve been doing this, we’ve managed to rekindle interest among younger generations.”

Leave a Comment