Rain doesn't dampen fun for military Families
WO1 Mike Bishop paints a castle on the face of Jiselle Toledo at the Children's Festival.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 5, 2012) -- Scattered showers may have kept a few Families at home Saturday, but more than 1,300 people still showed up for Fort Rucker's annual Children's Festival.

"We weren't expecting this crowd with the rain," said Kimberly Abeln, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation annual events coordinator. "It's a great turnout."

The event, usually held at festival fields, was moved to the youth services gym because of the weather.

"It was a hard decision," explained Abeln. "We had to cancel the petting zoo, vendors, kite flying and the Ride and Drive." Instead of the traditional Easter egg hunt, children picked up eggs at each of the MWR activity booths.

But even with all the adjustments that had to be made, Abeln still called the event a success.

"The kids had a great time participating in all the activities, which included giant coloring sheets, Easter egg pick-up, balloon giveaways, pinwheel making, face painting and photos with the Easter Bunny, just to name a few," she said. "There were many Families that stayed for the entire event and told me they were already looking forward to next year's festival."

It was Peggy Roca's first trip to the festival. "The rain's a bummer," she said as she watched her daughter dance to the music playing in the gym. "But it's a good turnout."

A few booths away, Vanessa Hickman watched as Jiselle Toledo had her face painted by WO1 Mike Bishop. "She gave him a challenge," Hickman said. "She wanted a castle."

Hickman said she thought it was good for the Families of Fort Rucker to have a day to "just have fun."

About an hour after the festival started, children began signing up for a jump rope competition sponsored by former Olympian Buddy Lee. Lee and his staff demonstrated a few basic jump rope skills and then helped the children practice before the competition started.

"The most important thing is to do your best," Lee told the participants. "The most important thing is to never, never give up."

The children were divided into two groups based on age. Volunteer judges counted how many times each child jumped in the time they were given. The child in each group that jumped the most won a signed poster, jump rope and other prizes.

Abeln said she was already looking at larger indoor areas to accommodate next year's festival just in case more bad weather is in the forecast.

"But hopefully, we'll be back outside next year and be able to have our traditional egg hunt and activities for the Fort Rucker community to enjoy," she added.

Page last updated Fri April 6th, 2012 at 00:00