By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND - This town is all about the red, white and blue. Mainstreet DeLand just wants other folks to know.
"We are in the running for the most patriotic," Naomi Nichols, marketing coordinator, said.
Mainstreet DeLand Association recently learned that DeLand was quickly racking up votes for "Most Patriotic" in Rand McNally's 2012 Best Small Towns in America contest. Ms. Nichols said it seemed quite natural.
"We've gotten votes in other categories, but we'd love to focus on the most-patriotic category."
DeLand is home to the Volusia County Veterans Day Parade, the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum, numerous veterans service organizations, and Hari Pulapaka, a man who has an unusual vantage point to see American patriotism.
"I lived for 21 years in India and came to this country," he said. "I can appreciate the expression of patriotism here as opposed to India. There are similarities and differences."
Mr. Pulapaka is chef at Cress Restaurant in Downtown DeLand and an associate professor at Stetson University. He said DeLand's patriotism is much more than the trimmings of flags set out by local Rotary clubs on federal holidays. He said it's the values and the culture inherited from those who forged our nation. One of those values DeLand has in abundance, according to Mr. Pulapaka, is political participation.
Blane Aldrich, owner of Comfort Service Cooling & Heating, also voted for DeLand as the most patriotic town in the contest. He said meeting with lots of local military veterans has helped him understand how patriotic his hometown is.
"I appreciate them for what they've done for us," he said. "I get a kick out of talking to them."
To vote in the contest, visit www.bestoftheroad.com. Voting closes on May 15.