FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 14, 2018) -- The U.S. Army celebrated its 243rd birthday on June 14, and thousands of Fort Drum Soldiers and Family Members enjoyed the day with a party at Alexandria Bay during Riverfest.

While the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff provided a carnival-like atmosphere with games, bounce houses, rock wall and music, the main attraction was a guided boat tour of the Thousand Islands and a visit to Boldt Castle on Heart Island.

"This was actually my first time ever riding in a boat," said Pfc. Edem Kablegnon, a 10th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldier. "It was a good. I got here two months ago and this is my second duty station so I wanted to come out and see what the area was like."

For many, it was an opportunity to explore a part of the North Country they never visited before, as many local specialty shops, boutiques and eateries filled with patrons. Attendees could also walk down to the pavilion where volunteers were cooking up grilled hotdogs and burgers for everyone.

That's where Spc. James Lagenour, from 2nd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, started the day with his wife Raven and their four children. They've been stationed at Fort Drum for two year and this is their first summer together, due to his overseas rotation last year.

"Today is all about getting out and letting the kids see some of the community and have some fun," he said. "Fort Drum hosts a lot of events and we try to get as many as we can, especially in the summer months just to get everyone out of the house."

For a family of six, Raven said that Riverfest gave them a chance to take a boat tour that otherwise would have been costly to them.

"I promised the kids we would see the castle, so this was a must," she said.

Sharon Addison, FMWR director, said that FMWR partners every year with the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army to organize Riverfest for the military community.

"It's very encouraging to see everyone out here today," she said. "This is about family, and it's about Soldiers becoming one with the surrounding communities."

Riverfest is the prelude, or kickoff event, leading up to Mountainfest on June 20. As Riverfest gets Soldiers outside the gates to explore local attractions, Mountainfest invites thousands of Fort Drum's neighbors on post for a party on Division Hill.

"Besides the great entertainment, Mountainfest is about camaraderie and a celebration of communities - the military community and the civilian community - and the mutual respect we have on both sides," Addison said.

To learn more about Mountainfest and other special events at Fort Drum, visit https://www.facebook.com/DrumFMWR/.