Kaiserslautern celebrates youth with a historical 'bang'
April 29, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Try as she might, Lea Reinhardt, 10, didn't get to do all the activities and events at the Kaiserslautern military community's 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 Air Base Wing's Services Squadron Family Member Program Flight.
"I didn't get to plant a sunflower or go through the tunnel thing," said Reinhardt, 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 9-12 year olds, make a newspaper hat, large paper photo frame and silly putty, went on a treasure hunt, played with bubbles, had her face painted, visited Clown Filou who made her a mouse-shaped balloon and later, seeing him walk around on stilts, spray-painted a wall, boxed with really huge gloves, wrestled in a funny Sumo suit, watched Misto the Magician pull a stuffed chicken out of the hat and other "how-did-he do-that" tricks, and saw the Tirnanog Irish Dance School's performance.
All these activities and even more that Reinhardt didn't even know about were 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 this event for the Army was Shay Berchtold, the garrison's School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills director, and 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 started planning for this event way 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," said Berchtold, citing the infant area with sandboxes at just the right height and the teen basketball tournament.
"Working together is the way to go for the future," Fuller said.
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 Air Base.
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 that was a great idea.
(Editor's Note: Christine June writes for the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)