"Well, I'm glad I cleaned up a little bit," Sharon Naught said with a laugh as she walked into the Salute to America office Tuesday surrounded by colleagues to receive a plaque to commemorate her and her husband, Tom, for their sponsorship and community support.
Salute to America is Jefferson City's annual Fourth of July festival. The celebration brings more than 10,000 people downtown every year to play games, indulge in food from vendors and food trucks, and listen to live music.
"After the pandemic, people wanted to get out and do things, and this gave them the opportunity to do it," Naught said.
For more than 15 years, Naught has been involved in the making of Salute to America, and she is the first to be awarded a plaque of this kind.
"All of your years, I know that you've done the sponsorships and you've given so much, but also just being there," Mayor Carrie Tergin said to Naught as she placed the plaque in a velvet, navy blue box. "You are there. You are present. You are hands-on. You and Tom and your whole family, you show up and you give the recognition to the veterans every time."
Naught came to the office to accept the award on behalf of her and Tom, and said they are partners in their work for Salute to America.
"He is my driving force. We both do this together. It's not just me, it's us," she said.
To event coordinator Penny Smith, choosing the Naughts for this honor was a no-brainer.
"She does way more than most people do for Salute to America," Smith said. "Not just with sponsorship, but being involved and her care for the veterans."