Children's Festival brings in hundreds, despite expected storms
Mathew Nagle, Army Family member, and Staff Sgt. Japheth Shaver, A Company, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, with son, Kyle, wife, Amber, and daughter, Anna, sit at the Lowe's construction table building with hammers and wood during the ninth annual Children's Festival March 23.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 28, 2013) -- Despite a gloomy forecast March 26, more than 900 people showed up for the ninth annual Children's Festival held in the Andrews Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Facility.

Organizers were disappointed that the event had to be moved indoors, and vendors bringing the petting zoo and the inflatables could not be accommodated, but were overall satisfied with the participation in the event.

"We are thankful the weather held out like it has so we didn't have to cancel it entirely. This year we have been able to accommodate a lot more activities in our rain location, which has given people a lot more breathing room and room to open their eggs," said Kimberly Abeln, event coordinator.

More than 20 vendors and sponsors were still able to attend the event, and many succeeded in keeping the children occupied and the giggles coming.

"This is the largest Easter egg hunt in the Wiregrass. It has been a huge success so far even though it called for rain. This year, though, we were ready and found a larger facility that could accommodate patrons," said Leigh Ann Dukes, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsorship and advertising sales manager.

Every vendor had some type of child-friendly game or craft that attendees could partake in. Some of the vendor activates were ring toss, stickers, coloring, corn hole, building with wood, painting and pinwheel making.

The Easter Bunny was also in attendance for pictures and a magic show was also held for the children's entertainment.

"I think it is great because there is not a lot for Families to do around here. We have lived here for 10 years and most of the events we do as a Family are here on Fort Rucker. We have planned on coming for weeks; we are having so much fun," said CW2 Jacob Landry, B Company, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment.

On-post organizations also had booths set up where children could build with modeling clay, make art with sand and create bracelets out of beads, along with age-appropriate games. Many children could not keep their eyes off of the stilt walker who also juggled and blew bubbles.

Easter egg bags were handed out in lieu of a hunt since the event had to be moved indoors. The prize tickets were randomly placed in bags according to age groups to keep things fair.

"We only had two grand prizes in each age group, but we also had smaller prizes and when children got a ticket they could go to the prize tent and pick out their prize. We had things like puzzles, crayons and magic tricks," said Abeln.

Flight students and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers volunteered to help out with the event, providing muscles for heavy lifting, extra hands for egg dispensing and smiles for shy children.

"This is our class project, but it really means a lot to us to give back to the community. To give back to a place that has given us so much, like our careers, is awesome," said W01 Bryce Corman, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment.

"This event definitely shows that the Army cares for its military Families. Families give so much when their Soldier is in flight school because the student barely has time to sleep let alone help out with Family events and spend time with them. Events like this help keep military Families strong, it helps them bond," he added.

Page last updated Thu March 28th, 2013 at 14:12