MOMC Festival recognizes children, lifts spirits
April 26, 2013
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- After days of winter-like weather, with cold temperatures and bone-chilling gusts, the sun finally broke through the clouds, seemingly lighting up not just the sky, but spirits as well for the Month of the Military Child Festival April 21 at the Forsyth Child Development centers.
Families were out in full force to enjoy the festivities, as children darted from one activity to the next, chatter and laughter dancing on the breeze of the warm afternoon.
With sack races, dog shows, hair painting and much more, the event was bursting with Family-friendly activities, even enticing older Family members to get involved, all in the name of celebrating military children and the sacrifices they make.
Children participated in a dog show playing, "Who's Smarter than a Border collie," a Simon Says game pitting children against a Border collie named Riot. Soldiers got in on the action for the final trick, as Hustle, a Border collie mix, caught a Frisbee in mid-air while jumping over five squatting Soldiers.
"It was funny," said Brenneka Murray, 7, whose dad was among the Soldiers who volunteered for the trick.
"I thought the dog was going to land on me," said her father, Cpl. Alyn Murray, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, afterwards, adding that for him and his Family, the dog show was the highlight.
The event was packed full of more than just activities, food and shows. It was packed full of tiny moments for Families to share and bond over.
As Sgt. Johnnell Brown, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., sat down to get his hair painted, he requested a Mohawk. Moments later, sporting green hair with an orange stripe down the middle, Brown said he thought it made him look like a rock star. His daughters just thought it looked hilarious.
"They put me up to it," Brown said, as his daughters cracked up beside him. "They dared me."
Sprinkled throughout the event were activities for kids, including sack races and bag tosses. Encouraging children to be active also was incorporated in the Captain America show, as Captain America had kids take a pledge to lead healthy lifestyles, including being tobacco, alcohol and drug free.
Additionally, free food and healthy snacks, like a make-your-own trail mix bar, were available.
The trail mix was a highlight for Tiana Hileman, military spouse, and her children, she said.
The Hilemans came to the event to celebrate their children and the sacrifices they make, she said, plus the event gave them an opportunity to spend some time together before her husband heads to the field.
"My husband's going to the field for a week, so it's kind of nice to get together as a Family today to do this before he leaves for the week," she said.
Hileman said her children enjoyed the bouncy obstacle course and the various activity stations.
"These are neat how they have the little games set up the kids can participate in," Hileman said, after helping her 3-year-old son, Thaddeus, with the sack race. "I think it's neat that it gives the kids an opportunity to come out and have fun with other military kids."
With representatives from a variety of organizations, both on post -- like Parent to Parent and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security -- and off post, like the Dorothy Bramlage Library in Junction City, the festival provided an opportunity for Families to learn about various resources while having fun.
The jam-packed day exceeded expectations with a great turnout, said Sonya Douglas, coordinator, Child, Youth and School Services, who helped organize the event.
"I am just overjoyed that so many people came out this year," Douglas said. "This is absolutely the best event we have all year."
In the midst of nasty weather and a heavy news cycle, Douglas said she thought people needed the opportunity to get out and have some fun.
"This one day to go out and not have to reach in your pocket, to have a good day that is free, and it's fun, and it's for everybody. I think it's just a welcome relief that everybody needs," she said. "We only do it once a year, and we don't charge for anything. It's our opportunity to give back to military children."
As balloons bobbed, dogs leapt and obstacle courses were overcome, the festival seemed to have an uplifting atmosphere.