By Hannah M. Hayner (Fort Drum Public Affairs)July 7, 2008
Grand finale fireworks colored the rainy sky Thursday night as Fort Drum's annual Mountainfest celebration came to a close at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.
The day was full of fun activities, games, music and refreshments.
All along the tarmac were volunteers conducting fundraisers for various units. They offered everything from catfish and hot dogs to candles and handmade bags.
The USO trailer was available for those who wanted to sit and relax, play a video game, watch a movie or sign a banner that would be sent to Soldiers overseas.
Children went from booth to booth, collecting souvenirs, testing their swing at a miniature golf setup, shooting basketballs, throwing baseballs and footballs, and much more.
More excitement awaited them around the corner, where they could make crafts and slide down or jump on 10 different inflatables.
For those old enough, netting surrounded an area for guests to compete in paintball matches.
"We wanted to offer a lot of fun and activities for the teenagers and children," said Steve Ferguson, Youth Services program manager. "Everyone's having fun today. Youths and parents both have told us they think it's great."
"This is awesome," said Melissa Pierce, who brought her two sons. "Their dad is not here, and it gets us out. The free stuff is great, and so are the bouncies for the children."
One 14-year-old said the games for the children were her favorite part, but for the sake of someone else.
"I like the games they have for children, because my 10-year-old brother is really enjoying it, and I'm glad he's having fun," Victoria Redmore said.
Five-year-old Tyler Pierce said he liked to look at the planes. His brother Hunter, 7, said he loved the food and hoped he would lose his tooth at Mountainfest.
"My favorite part of Mountainfest is, um, mostly everything!" Hunter said, throwing up his hands.
"Salute to the Nation" was the next event on the Mountainfest agenda, which featured a 56-gun tribute. The division band played a sound-off before Soldiers of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade carrying flags of every state and U.S. territory marched onto the field.
"This is a time-honored tradition," said Staff Sgt. David Boyle, division color guard noncommissioned officer in charge. "The division has Soldiers from every state, and it's important to honor them, Family Members and civilians, as well as our fallen heroes. That's what we're out here for."
Later in the evening, Katie Rae Davis, Bowling for Soup and Gary Allan each entertained the crowd with a free concert. (See page 21 for separate story.)
"I really like Bowling for Soup," said Adrienne Lambert, 14. "It makes this year more exciting for the younger group. This year, there is a lot more to do and a lot more fun."
Although rain began to fall, the night still ended with a bang - literally. Spectacular fireworks screamed through the sky, adding the perfect end note to the memorable day.
Boyle said the fact that this is Fort Drum's centennial adds something special to the day.
"When they celebrate the next centennial, maybe they'll be thinking of Soldiers like us," he said. "I'm proud to be here, in the Army, and part of something this monumental."