The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 229th Engineer Company is leaving Wisconsin early Monday for training in Texas before deployment to Afghanistan.
Before their deployment, family and friends of the 229th are having a sendoff party in Prairie du Chien.
A ceremony will be held at Prairie du Chien High School Saturday at 1 p.m. The 180 members of the 229th will be escorted from the Prairie du Chien Armory to the high school and back.
The celebration will be held at the St. Feriole Island ballpark pavilion starting at 2 p.m.
“It’s going to be like a great big family celebration/reunion type of thing,” said Lori Dean of Prairie du Chien, whose daughter, Brittany Lee, and son-in-law, Kenny Schaefer, are in the 229th.
The original expected attendance of 800 has ballooned to an expected 3,000 attendees.
“There are no hotel rooms in town that I know of,” said Dean.
The event is free and open to the public. Visitors are advised to bring their own lawnchairs and coolers.
The menu includes a hog roast, pulled pork, a fish fry with homemade fries, and hamburgers, brats and hot dogs.
“We’re in dire need of soda pop,” said Dean.
A softball game is planned. A DJ will provide music. A petting zoo is being brought to the event.
The 229th, part of the Army National Guard’s 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, returned Tuesday after spending a month training at Fort McCoy. About 180 members of the 229th will leave early Monday for Fort Hood, Texas, before the 229th goes to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 229th was deployed in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2004 and for Operation Desert Storm from December 1990 until April 1991.
Dean’s group is looking for volunteers to set up Thursday night and Friday. To volunteer or for more information, call (608) 391-2849.
Earlier this week the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce was organizing a bus ride from Platteville to Prairie du Chien for Saturday’s events. For more information, call 348-8888.