By Eric S. Bartelt, West Point Pointer View EditorMay 4, 2010
Smiles from ear-to-ear, screams of laughter and unbridled joy of the West Point community's "Everyday Heroes" resonated throughout a sun-filled majestic afternoon at the Month of the Military Child Luncheon April 24 at the Victor Constant Ski Lodge.
The three hours of fun under the sun included a variety of activities for the entire West Point community to enjoy.
The activities included face painting, tattoos, arts and crafts, a giraffe "moonbounce" bouncy room, ski lift ride, horse back riding, a visit from Macaroni the Clown and Brian Robinson, who brought an exhibit of wildlife creatures.
Nearly 250 tickets were sold for the event. It was a great time for those in attendance and those from Child, Youth and School Services and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation who helped bring the event to life.
"This is a day for us to honor our military children as well as all children who come to our military programs," Kim Tague, MOMC event coordinator, said. "The event is enjoyed by the military Families and we enjoy putting this on every year for them."
The event allowed parents and community members to thank the children for everything they endure while their parents are deployed, work long hours or for the times, either financially or emotionally, that are tough for parents and children to share special bonding moments like these.
"With the long hours I spend at work," Lt. Col. Tim Duffy, podiatrist at Keller Army Community Hospital, said, "it's nice to have this (event) so they can have some time with us."
Duffy's son, Brendan, who was sporting a Sidney Crosby T-shirt, had a great day eating cotton candy and popcorn, things his dad says he's doesn't get to eat often enough.
However, his 7-year-old son took pleasure in a couple of other experiences at the luncheon.
"(I enjoyed) seeing the falcon and going in the bouncing house," Brendan said.
Robinson, who offers educational wildlife programs through "Wildlife Lectures with Brian Robinson," showed a number of children and parents his wildlife creatures to include a Harris hawk, Eagle owl, Turkey vulture, Peregrine falcon and a legless lizard. The children were thrilled to see the wildlife and were intrigued by the owl that ate his lunch, a dead mouse, in front of them.
Many of the parents were appreciative of what CYSS and FMWR did to put this event together.
"I think it's neat that West Point and FMWR, specifically, cares enough about our Families that they're willing to put on this event," Maj. Neal Mayo, superintendent's aide, said. "This is our third year back, and clearly it's had an impact on us and I know it has for a number of other Families in the community.
"It's neat the community can come together like this," Mayo added. "To be able to experience some of the things that we wouldn't normally with our kids, such as the animal show, and being able to experience that with them is special and we certainly appreciate these people coming out here and doing this."
One of Mayo's four children, J.T., who came out for the fun, was chomping on some cotton candy while expressing his feelings on the day.
"My favorite (part of the day) was getting tattoos," the 8-year-old said. "(Riding the horse) was also fun. I did it last year ... (the experience) always gets better."
Another great apect of the event was offering free admittance to children of deployed Family members and Warrior Transition Unit Families.
"We allow them to come out and enjoy the day because we know they are going through a lot being a deployed Family or Family of a wounded warrior," Tague said. "We feel honored we can do this for them."
Tague was happy with the big turnout of nearly 250 people and that the day was nice enough for everyone to enjoy both the indoor and outdoor activities.
"We're so happy with the weather because it played a big part on how well the day went," Tague said. "It allowed us to have the ski lift, horses and the outside bouncy (house) activities. (The weather) allowed us to spread out things throughout the day and enjoy everything."