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UPDATE: Nam Jam rescheduled to Oct. 22
September 13, 2017

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UPDATE:

The Shell Factory and Nature Park's Nam Jam set for Sunday, Sept. 17, has been rescheduled to Oct. 22.

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ORIGINAL:

The Shell Factory and Nature Park has planned its inaugural veterans-oriented Nam Jam from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, featuring live music, food, specials for veterans and a tribute.

The attraction does a lot of community outreach, such as the field trips they provide to area students for the nature park, and has always wanted to do something for veterans, just not on Veterans Day when there's so much going on, Rick Tupper, marketing director and CFO of the Shell Factory, said.

"It's dedicated to local veterans. We are saluting Vietnam veterans, but also honoring all veterans," Tupper said. "The Nam Jam name came from a similar event they hold in Tuscon, Ariz., which gathers a lot of people. They gave us the OK to use the name and logo."

Ralph Santillo, founder of the Invest in America's Veterans Foundation, said his organization often combines its efforts with the Shell Factory to do wonderful things.

"When they started talking about the Nam Jam, they talked to us and we wanted to be a part of it because of all the Vietnam vets we have," said Santillo, whose group has a museum display in the Shell Factory.

The free event includes music with Chuck Peterson noon till 3 p.m., as well as a barbecue cookout, with veterans receiving a free hot dog and chips.

At 3 p.m. is a special tribute to veterans, featuring a color guard ceremony by the Lee County Sheriff's Office Color Guard, an MIA (Missing in Action) ceremony done by one of the local veterans organizations, and they will honor a pair of World War II veterans.

Veterans receive free admission to the nature park, a free round of mini golf, tickets for two draft beers or one well drink, 20 percent off any purchase in the retail store, a $3 discount on the Italian buffet and a free picture with a zip line purchase.

Nam veterans also receive a 50-year commemorative veterans package from Invest in America's Veterans Foundation. The package will include a proclamation from the president and a commemorative medal, among other things.

Santillo said he's been going around the country, handing out these medals, with many Vietnam veterans not even realizing they were entitled to them.

There also be a 50/50 raffle, with the proceeds going to the foundation. The Shell Factory is at 2787 Tamiami Trail.

For more information, call 995-2141 or go to: www.shellfactory.com/.

(Editor's note: This story published before Hurricane Irma.)

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