The inaugural season of South Steps Fridays ended August 7 with a rousing salute to Veterans, complete with live music, colorful flags and beautiful weather.
Several hundred Veterans, state employees and Statehouse visitors participated in the two-hour event. Nearly 20 state and local organizations provided information about services and programs for Veterans, while members of the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard from Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division were on the grounds with their horses. The soldiers wore cavalry uniforms from the 1800s when Fort Riley was a frontier outpost.
Groups participating included vehicles and soldiers from the Kansas National Guard, KanVet, the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Kansas Honor Flight, Heroes on the Water, the Military Veterans Project, Team Red White and Blue, the Kansas Lottery, Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve and the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs.
Music was provided by the KU Jazz Combo I from the University of Kansas’ School of Music. The performance was sponsored by Reach Out Kansas Inc., and Senator and Mrs. Jim Denning. Students from Topeka High School’s Marine Corps JRTC program put U.S. Flags around the grounds to give Veterans a proper salute.
John Milburn, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs for the Department of Administration, said the event was well received and many of the participants were already looking for ways to make the celebration bigger and better in 2016.
“This first season of South Steps Fridays exceeded our expectations,” Milburn said. “We were looking to create an event that would become a noon-time destination for state employees and visitors to the Capitol Complex. I think we are well on our way to establishing just such an event.
Milburn said groups had expressed interest in coming back in 2016 and working to find ways to bring even more people to the Capitol Complex to showcase the renovated Statehouse, as well as provide a festive environment for families to have a summer lunch.
“We were fortunate to establish some great relationships within state government, Topeka and the greater northeast Kansas community,” he said. “I look forward to what we can accomplish next year to make this event a must-do for anyone looking to come to the Kansas Statehouse.”