Graf community celebrates the Fourth in style
July 5, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- A little boy in a Superman costume chased his friends in a heroic game of tag. Across the parade field, 1st Lt. Timothy Bearden, a physician's assistant for 15th Engineer Battalion, threw a football to his 11-year-old daughter, Ava, while 5-year-old Joyleen Navarro danced in line, anxiously awaiting her turn at the Apache FRG face-painting booth.
Although the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr community's Fourth of July celebration was scaled down this year, the enthusiasm was not.
Blankets lined the parade field on Tower Barracks starting at 6 p.m. and by 8 p.m., the line was 30 deep at the Nord Bayern Silver Chapter Warrant Officers' Association tent, which served up true American cuisine such as burgers, hot dogs and chips -- the scent from which permeated through the crowd of red, white and blue.
More than 500 Soldiers, civilians, family members and members of the host nation community gathered for this year's festivities, which were more "down home" than previous years. The usual vendors and live music were replaced with unit-sponsored booths and community fellowship.
But for many, the intimate gathering is what the Fourth is all about.
"This is year is more family oriented," said family member Amanda Zubia. "There are less distractions and everyone is spending more time with each other."
Zubia and her family arrived early, wearing matching white T-shirts that proudly displayed the American flag. For hours they lounged on a large blanket, snacking picnic-style while waiting for the fireworks display to start.
"Hanging out, eating food, watching fireworks, that's what it's all about," she said.