Snow Foolin': Holiday event features white stuff
December 24, 2013
ALIAMANU MILITARY RESERVATION, Hawaii (Dec. 13, 2013) -- Seven-year-old Madahsyn Thomas, a first-grader at Wheeler Elementary School, is originally from Virginia, but she knows something about living at Schofield Barracks.
"Mom, it doesn't snow in Hawaii."
Madahsyn seemed fairly certain of that earlier in the week until she found out differently, Saturday.
There was no recorded snowfall on the island of Oahu and, specifically, at Aliamanu Military Reservation, Dec. 7. However, it took 13 tons of trucked-in snow to create a reasonable facsimile at the AMR Winter Wonderland holiday festival, produced by U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
By 9 a.m., Saturday, a truckload of snow, normally created for packing fresh fish and purchased from POP Fishing was, instead, unloaded near the AMR Child Development Center. It piled nearly 5 feet high.
By 11 that morning, the 80-degree heat reduced the pile to a still significant 2-foot mound. It was still more than substantial enough to delight the playful crowd -- even if snowball throwing was prohibited.
"This is real nice," said the elder Thomas, who traveled to AMR with a group of parents from Wheeler and Schofield Barracks, specifically for the annual holiday festival. "This is something we've wanted to do (play in the snow) since 2010 when we left Virginia for our first duty station."
This is the third year that the annual AMR Holidayfest has featured a playground of snow and the first year for the new event title: Winter Wonderland.
The snow-play area has complimented new and varied established events and activities, including ornament painting and holiday entertainment that features SKIES programs.
The Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers found no irony that its snow cone stand, located next to the snow-play area, did a robust business.
"This has been a good fundraising morning," said Spc. Jennifer Coggins, USAG-HI BOSS president.
Other units also set up food booths throughout the AMR Community Center area.
Free activities included photo ops with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, elves and penguins, while others occupied their time with the arts and crafts.
The attendance, with the snow play area, has doubled during the past three years and approached an estimated 2,000 on Saturday. The event now attracts military attendance from throughout the island.
"I got calls in my office from Navy, Air Force and Schofield family members all this week," said Xylene Lennon, lead coordinator for FMWR's Special Events section, Community Recreation Division.
Saturday's event began with a reservations-only breakfast with Santa.
"We sold out," Lennon said of the 200-person event.
Through partnerships with varied groups, including FMWR's Child and Youth Support Services, Island Palms Communities and the Hui 'O Wahine spouses club, the Winter-Wonderland-future of this event seems ensured.
"We wanted to create a magical experience for our Soldiers and family members," Lennon explained. "And I think we did it."