The "To Infinity and Beyond an Evening of Wine and Roses Under the Stars" honored guest reception presented by the Wasco Elk Ladies was a special night celebrating the 2023 Grand Marshals, the Charles Wedel Family; the 2023 Honorary Grand Marshals, the VFW Post 6742; and the 2023 Miss Wasco Rose Queen, Esmeralda Rodriguez, and her court.
Cherie Wedel Johnson, younger sister of Charles, said, "On behalf of the Charles Wedel family, I want to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Rose Festival Committee for this honor and the Wasco Elk Ladies for this wonderful event."
"To have my brother's very well-lived life acknowledged in this fashion goes a long way in assuaging the grief felt at losing such a cherished husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law, father-in-law and uncle. It fills us all with immense pride."
"Since September 1, 1973, when Chuck and Mickie were married, they set out to create a family base that extended the core principles by which they were both raised: integrity, faith, kindness, hard work, common sense, commitment, patriotism, loyalty and family."
James Medrano of the VFW Post 6742 said, "It's an honor to be recognized by the city of Wasco. We were around for 77 years, and throughout that time, we appreciated the community's support for the veterans. In return, we were able to give back a little."
"The best part is that the Wasco community still recognizes the sacrifice these war veterans endured for the freedom we enjoy today. Unfortunately, we are closing our post but will hope that our presence will carry on."
He said of the Charles Wedel family, "They are a pillar in our community. I believe they set the example, and I am flattered to be amongst them as Honorary Marshals."
It was the first official event for the 2023 Miss Wasco Rose Queen Esmeralda Rodriguez. "I'm so excited and can't wait for more events to come. It's so amazing to be able to serve my community."
It was the second year that the Elk Ladies hosted the event. Member and former Grand Marshal in 2013 Candy Wilson said, "It's beautiful because the community is coming together to celebrate our town."
"I think the marshals are perfect. The Charles Wedel family has done so much for Wasco, and it's also really good to honor the VFW."
Previous grand marshals like Jim Grundt (2017 Grand Marshal) and Tom Edick (2018 Grand Marshal) attended. "My advice to the marshals is to enjoy the ride. It's quite an honor and special to be chosen. It's a tribute to a lot of donating our time in the city," Edick said.
City officials were also in attendance to congratulate the marshals. Mayor Pro Tem Alex Garcia said, "I came today because it's important to recognize the giants in our community that have come before us, albeit a person or organization like the VFW."
"Tonight, we honor their contributions. Each Grand Marshal and the Honorary Grand Marshal have given so much in our city's history."
Representatives from Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains, Congressman David Valadao and Senator Melissa Hurtados' office were on hand to pay tribute to the honorary guests with proclamations of recognition.
Councilmember Gilberto Reyna presented the queen with a ring and trophies for her, the 1st runner-up, Madison Martinez, and the 2nd runner-up, Addison Vasquez.
"It was great to honor them. They will do an excellent job representing our community of Wasco. I congratulate and wish them luck as they carry out their duties."
Wasco Rose Festival committee member Sharon Sharp was pleased with the event. She said, "Tonight was memorable and heartfelt. It's always a privilege to honor such selfless community supporters."
"Seeing the Charles Wedel family, who has given back to the community for over 100 years, and the VFW, who were part of Wasco for more than seven decades, recognized was a highlight. And it's always so special to see the newly crowned Rose Queen speak at her first event."
This year, with the art show that was part of the evening, the Rose Festival committee changed how they recognized a featured artist.
"In the past, it was a Wasco High School alumnus. We decided instead to support current artists students from WHS," Sharp said.
Of the reception, Wasco Elk Lady and event coordinator Liz Gerber said, "We had a fantastic turnout. Wasco came through for us."