By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir EagleOctober 31, 2013
Military Families attended the Halloween-themed 5th annual USO Fall Fest on Saturday, a candy-free event.
More than 800 people attended the Fall Fest, according to K.J. Stevens, USO programs coordinator. Candy was not provided at the event, in honor of the USO's yearlong push for healthy eating
The Fall Fest also featured a costume contest for children and adults.
The children dressed up in adorable costumes, and many of them were homemade, Stevens said. She was impressed with the turnout for the event.
"We were kind of nervous about not giving candy out at a Halloween event," Stevens said. "But the parents have been very faithful for it and the kids are just as excited. They actually ran out of apples."
Applesauce was also available at the Fall Fest and attendees were encouraged to bring enough food to have a picnic at the event.
The fest featured a dance class, a moon bounce and lots of Halloween-themed games, including a spider ring toss. The USO also provided free WWE action figures. More than a dozen military spouses set up displays showcasing their home-based businesses in the USO's multi-purpose room.
Maj. Andrew Lindgren, National Guard Bureau action officer, came out for the event with his wife, Joy, and their 5-year-old daughter Abi. The youngster dressed up as a monster and enjoyed jumping in the moon bounce.
Lindgren was impressed with the Fall Fest.
"I think it is good to get all of the Families to kind of get together and socialize at this event, and relax and get the stress out," he said. "And the kids just enjoy it."
Staff Sgt. Henry Tye, Intelligence and Security Command, telecommunications equipment installer, appreciated the Fall Fest. Tye came to the event with his wife, Carolyn, and their 8-year-old daughter Emily. His Family stayed at the festival for hours and Emily dressed up as a peacock.
The Fall Fest brought the Washington D.C. area's military community together, said Staff Sgt. John Rendolph, 12th Aviation Battalion. He attended the Fall Fest with his wife, Marta, and their sons Weston, 12, Peyton, 10, and seven-year-old Jackson.
"It gets people to meet other people and support each other," Rendolph said of the event.
The 20,000 square-foot USO Warrior and Family Center opened in 2013 and it is the largest facility the organization has ever constructed. The state-of-the art facility provides programs for servicemembers, wounded warriors and their Families. It was designed to promote physical health, positive mental health, education, employment and community reintegration.