KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
For as long as recent memory serves, the 173rd Fighter Wing has hosted a Holiday Children’s Carnival on the Sunday of the December drill—primarily for the children of wing Airmen, but also as a chance for their parents to socialize and relax after another year of training America’s Air Superiority pilots here in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
In keeping with tradition, an instructor pilot from the wing heads all the way to the North Pole in his mighty F-15 Eagle and borrows Santa from his elves for the afternoon. Santa is accustomed to traveling very quickly on his sleigh and doesn’t find it strange that they make the return journey of 3,305 miles in mere moments. You can overhear parents explaining how this works to their kids—even the skeptical ones who think the jet just taxied around from behind the hangar.
After greeting Santa everyone moves into the hangar where tables of games and activities such as face painting and cookie decorating are set up. There are crafts where kids and parents alike can make Christmas tree decorations, or color pictures of Rudolph, Olaf, or just about any other characters associated with Christmas. There is a large roped off section where kids get to choose a present to take with them, presumably brought along by Santa in the F-15. There are pictures with a trio of real ponies and a kiosk serving piping hot coffee and not-as-hot hot chocolate.
The driving force for this popular event is the Airman and Family Readiness Center who amasses donations and a planning committee that organizes various sections on-base to make the event an annual success.
“This event is only possible with lots of help from people across the wing and in the local area,” said Joe Scriven, the Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager. “Maintenance has to set up the venue, LRS brings all of the tables and chairs we need, 4-H brought animals for photos and Starbucks brought coffee and hot chocolate…. Everybody comes together and it goes really well!”
No need to look any further than the smiling kids, carrying their presents donated by Operation Home Front, for proof of the events success.
“This is awesome, I love it!” said Colton with a huge smile on his face, a seven-year-old who attended the event with his parents.
In the past the event has expanded to include the fire department where Santa met each of the children and made a careful note of what they wanted on their Christmas list.
By three in the afternoon smiling people were making their way out of the hangar and fire department back to their vehicles after the conclusion of the drill weekend. If smiles and laughter are any indication it was another successful Children’s Holiday Carnival.