SMART members on the way
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016
This week, members of the Special Military Active Recreational Travelers’ South Central Region will roll into Sun Roamers RV Resort Park in Picayune for this year’s annual regional muster.
“A muster is what the military calls a gathering,” South Central Regional Director Denny Olvany of Carriere said. “SMART was created in 1982 when a group of military guys with RVs decided to get together and camp.”
SMART is a national organization headquartered in Pensacola, Florida. The South Central region is made of members from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and the Central Time Zone area of Florida, Olvany said.
For the first time, the event is being held in Picayune, he said. Each year, musters rotate alphabetically through the six states.
Opening ceremonies will be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m. with a welcome from Picayune Mayor Dr. Ed Pinero and City Manager Jim Luke, Olvany said. Picayune Councilwoman Tammy Valente and Pearl River County District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith will perform patriotic songs. Local entertainer David Delcambre will also provide musical entertainment. Picayune’s NJROTC will present the colors. On Sunday, the unit will return to retire the colors.
Officials with Picayune Main Street and the Mississippi Welcome Center in Pearl River County made gift bags for the incoming veterans, Olvany said.
The majority of their members are 65 and older, he said. Veterans in the group will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including card games, bean bag baseball and corn hole, Olvany said. Dr. Lou Finkle will lead seminars on topics such as boon docking, Alzheimer’s and age-appropriate camping activities, Olvany added. Finkle also knows where to camp and participate in tours for free, Olvany said.
There will be nightly door prizes awarded, which were donated by local businesses, Olvany said. Veterans will also enjoy catered meals as well as tours of the New Orleans World War II Museum, Honey Island Swamp and INFINITY Science Center. A golf game is scheduled at Millbrook County Club as well as a ladies luncheon at Paul’s Pastry Shop and a men’s luncheon at Sun Roamers, he added.
Olvany said he is expecting 41 rigs and 78 people, which will provide a tourist boost for Picayune.
“When they’re not eating catered meals here at Sun Roamers, they will be out shopping and eating at our businesses here,” he said. “Saturday, we don’t have anything planned, which will give our guests a chance to explore the area.”
SMART is open to veterans with RVs and Olvany said any veteran who would like to attend events as a guest or join the group can contact him at 601-819-0450.