Try as she might, Lea Reinhardt, 10, didn’t get to do all the activities and events at the KMC Month of the Military Child Celebration held Saturday at Pulaski Park on Pulaski Barracks.
More than 2,000 military children and their parents attended the event, which was hosted for the first time by the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and 435th Services Squadron Family Member Program Flight.
“I didn’t get to plant a sunflower or go through the tunnel thing,” said Lea, a Kaiserslautern Elementary School fifth-grader, who was at the four-hour event the whole time, not even taking a break for the free lunch.
What she did get to do was jump in the bouncy castle for 9 to 12 year olds, make a newspaper hat, go on a treasure hunt, play with bubbles, have her face painted, watch Misto the Magician pull a stuffed chicken out of the hat and see the Tir na nOg Irish Dance School’s performance.
All the activities at the event were made possible thanks to the KMC Army and Air Force uniting resources, funding, talents and staff and volunteers – about 100 from each unit. Previously, these two sister services would hold a separate carnival-type event to mark the end of the military-wide observance.
Organizing the event for the Army was Shay Berchtold, the garrison’s School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills director. Organizing for the Air Force was Sally Fuller, the 435th Service Squadron’s KMC youth community manager. They didn’t even know each other before they starting planning for this event back in October, but at the end of the celebration, they joked that they are now best friends after hundreds of meetings and e-mails.
“We wanted to make sure we had a variety of activities for all ages,” Mrs. Berchtold said, using the infant area with sandboxes at just the right height and the teen basketball tournament as examples.
She said infants and teens are sometimes left out of MOMC events, and they wanted to make sure they had their own activities.
“Hoorah!” said Ms. Fuller, on whether or not she thought the event was a success. “Working together is the way to go for the future.”
Right in the middle of the event, the 435th Services Squadron Family Member Program Flight Chief Dorothy Choate invited the Army to co-host the America’s Kids Run May 16 at Donnelly Park on Ramstein. This event has been solely hosted in the KMC by the Air Force for many years. Belynda Smith, the garrison’s Child, Youth and School Services chief, said she thought it was a great idea.