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Holiday festival 'lights up' children's faces

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- James, age 9, hugs Frosty the Snowman during the Children's Holiday Festival at the Main Fitness Center here Saturday. Nearly 500 children attended this year's festival. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amanda Delisle)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- James, age 9, hugs "Frosty the Snowman" during the Children's Holiday Festival at the Main Fitness Center here Dec. 9. Nearly 500 children attended this year's festival. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amanda Delisle)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Sparkling silver and blue snowflakes hung from the ceiling, and colored lights twinkled all around while children's laughter and holiday music filled the air. Volunteers had transformed Schriever's fitness center into a winter wonderland for the sixth Children's Holiday Festival Saturday.

The 50th Services Division hosts this event to bring a sense of community to the base, said Thea Wasche, 50th SVS director.

"We want to provide opportunities for our Schriever families that no one else does as well, and instill in the families that we are indeed a community," Mrs. Wasche said. "Even though they don't live here, we are capable of providing the best for them."

About 1,500 people participated in the holiday festival-more than at any previous event, the Services director said.

A variety of games and activities spanned the gym floor. At the Reindeer Toss, children tossed pipe cleaner necklaces aimed at wooden reindeer's necks. Duck Matching was also a popular game, especially among the younger children. A small blue pool held several yellow rubber ducks with markings on the bottom. When children matched two ducks with the same markings, they won prizes.

Inside the gym, a line formed of children waiting to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. "Mommy, Mommy, it's Santa!" a little girl exclaimed as she tugged at her mother's shirt. Boys and girls sat on Santa's knee, told him of their gift wishes and posed for a picture, then ran off to enjoy the many other fun events.

Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph also greeted youngsters with hugs and smiles.

The warm sun shined on the outside food tent while the hungry parents and children took a short break from all the activities and excitement of the festival. Services offered the meals for $2 per person.

Col. John Hyten, 50th Space Wing commander, gave kudos to Services and the volunteers during a 50th SW staff meeting Wednesday.

"It was one of the best events we've had since we've been here," said Colonel Hyten, who ran the horseshoe booth along with his wife, Laura. "It was a blast."

Preparation for the holiday festival starts a year out, according to the services director.

"It takes a lot of people to pull it off, including about 50 of the Services staff and more than 120 volunteers from all organizations on the base," Mrs. Wasche said.

Although planning and carrying out the Children's Holiday Festival is a lot of hard work, the event brings everyone together, builds community and gives the services team a great sense of camaraderie as well as achievement, she added.

"An unbelievable amount of praise and kudos from the parents and kids make all the hard work worthwhile," Mrs. Wasche said.

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