Updated 08/18/2012 02:45 PM
Naples Honors Local Gold Medal Olympian with Parade
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An Ontario County native returns to her hometown after winning the gold at the London Olympics.
U.S. rower Meghan Musnicki was the center of the celebration in the village of Naples.
"I really think it's the best small town. It's the best town anywhere and I'm incredibly lucky to be from it and have so many supporters because I mean everybody gets behind it," said Musnicki.
For many people in the town and village of Naples, she's a role model.
"It's exciting for them to know that coming from such a small community it doesn't limit you and what you can do." said Naples resident Angie Rischpater.
Musnicki describes winning gold in London as a dream.
"I've been going nonstop since we've raced and it really hasn't sunk in completely yet," said Musnicki. "Occasionally, I'm hit with the fact that, oh wow, I went to the Olympics and I have an Olympic gold medal."
The Olympic gold medalist had a warm welcome home Saturday from the entire village of Naples.
"We're a very close community and it's built a lot of excitement. Achieving a goal like this is something most of us would never accomplish in our lifetime," said Naples village mayor Brian Schenk.
Dozens lined the village's Main Street for a parade celebrating Musnicki's accomplishment.
"I thought people would be excited and happy to see me. My mom is like, 'There's a parade' and I was like, 'A parade?'," said Musnicki.
Local businesses and village residents all came out to express their congratulations and show their support.
"It's incredibly meaningful. These people are so supportive and they are mostly my friends and neighbors and it's great," said Gail Musnicki, Meghan's mother.
Meghan says she's been on cloud nine since her rowing team won. While her last few days have been filled with appearances, she'll spend the next couple of days catching up in her hometown.
"It is like a dream and it's an amazing feeling," said Meghan.
It's a feeling she's hoping will last at least until the next Summer Olympics in 2012.
"Rio is not out of the realm of possibility for me," said Musnicki.