FORT STEWART, Ga. -- Parents and Families gathered at the Fort Stewart Child Development Center, April 1, to kick off "Month of the Military Child" with a parade and other festivities.

Due to bad weather, the parade and celebration was moved inside, but that didn't hinder the fun.

Children, friends and Families lined the halls cheering words of encouragement to the youngsters, while the children marched up and down the halls listening to music, singing along and waving to the crowds.

One preschool class stopped to perform "The Bubble Gum Song," during which they wiggled and writhed along with the lyrics.

The parade was the opening salvo for a month-long celebration of military children and what makes them so special.

"We kick this thing off on the first of April and take it all the way through to the 30th," said Leah Cabey, the CDC facility director at Stewart. "We really want to put the focus on our military children. We know we are all special, and we celebrate our children every day of the week, but we have this one time where we can all come out and say, 'Hey, these are our military children. Let's get together and really appreciate and celebrate them.'"

The theme for the celebration focused on what Stewart does for military children, and what children do for their Families in return: "Bring Communities Together for Children-Children Bring Communities Together."

"Indeed, the early childhood years are critical to the forming of productive and successful citizens," said Dagmar Peguero-Olinger, chief of Child and Youth Services.

After the parade, the children were visited by Scruff McGruff, the Crime Dog, Dora the Explorer and Elmo for hugs and handshakes. The children danced, sang and enjoyed the military-wide event.

The Month of the Military Child continues throughout the month of April with Easter egg hunts, a spring dance and Wheels Day, which includes a static display of all types of wheeled vehicles.

The celebration is scheduled to end with a carnival and picnic, April 29, at the CDC.

For more information, contact the Child Development Center at 767-3203.