Published: Jul 04, 2013 6:36 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- People in Cape Coral got an early start celebrating the nation's birthday with the Great American Picnic. WINK News' own Lois Thome emceed part of the 7th annual event at Cape Harbor.

The salute to Independence Day kicked off with a color guard presentation, and also included the patriotic pet contest. But the celebration was also about remembering our troops in action.

"The shoeboxes are sent to the guys in Afghanistan, and then a banner is on the wall there and people can sign special thanks to them," said event manager Glenda Swager.

Vendors from the farmers market also displayed their goods. The picnic and celebration lasted until about 3:30 today.