SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Sills Field was jam packed with inflatable bouncers, games, rides, activity booths, food vendors, a rock climbing wall, and more than 5,000 Soldiers and family members during the 15th Annual Fun Fest & Information, Ticketing and Registration (ITR) Travel Fair here, April 11.

The Fun Fest began as a penny carnival to celebrate Easter and has continued to grow each year, according to Kathy Giannetti, chief, Recreation Delivery Services, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR).

Giannetti explained the intent of "fun fest" is to provide an atmosphere filled with fun and games for every member of the family.

"It's supposed to be fun," said Giannetti, "and it is."

McGruff the Crime Dog made an appearance, courtesy of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, to sing to kids and raise awareness about safety and crime.

Dancers from the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Hale Koa Hotel lined the stage as family members tapped their feet to the beat and children danced in front.

"This event has always been popular," said Kelly Andrews, community recreation marketing representative, FMWR. "It has something for everyone and is themed around the idea for families to let go and have some fun."

Family members claimed door prizes throughout the day, including a trip for two to Las Vegas. Children participated in an egg hunt and enjoyed an early visit from the Easter Bunny.

Two-year-old Riley Richards saw the bunny hopping across the field from yards away. She darted towards the famous rabbit with her arms wide open, grabbed hold of his furry leg and refused to let go.

The Easter Bunny hugged the child back, waved at passing children and made his way to a photo booth where children and families were waiting to meet him.

Four-year-old Isabella Moore's eyes lit up at the sight of the bunny, as well. She excitedly sat next to him, smiling from ear to ear.

"I asked for candy," said Moore, giggling.

The field was filled with numerous games keeping children entertained for hours, including ball bounce, ring toss, skee roll, plinko and tic-tac-toe.

"I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the event," said Capt. Christopher Cross, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. "It's great to spend time with the family and experience something new."

Cross' son, 19-month old Christopher Jr., experienced his first tea cup ride at the fest.

"He seemed to like it," said Cross. "There is so much to do here today to keep us all entertained."

Children walked around with brightly colored hair and painted faces resembling tigers and bears.

Parents snacked on funnel cakes and waved to their children riding the carousel.

As the clock neared 2 p.m., the crowd faded, bouncers deflated, games wrapped up and the Easter Bunny made his way home to rest up for Easter Sunday.

Three-year-old Traceya Summers, waived good-bye to the bunny over her shoulder as she followed her mom across the field.

"Bye, Easter Bunny," said Summers. "I'll see you tomorrow."

For the fifth straight year, ITR partnered with FMWR to provide information during the Fun Fest about discounted travel deals, luau, cruises and other recreational opportunities available in Hawaii and on the mainland.

Cutter Auto Family Centers sponsored the event. Additional sponsors included USAA, University of Phoenix, Ke Ola O Pokai Bay, Sprint Hawaii, Army Hawaii Family Housing, Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union, Geico Hawaii, AAFES-Schofield Barracks, Roberts Hawaii and the Hale Koa Hotel.

Page last updated Fri April 17th, 2009 at 15:34