173rd Fighter Wing hosts annual Children’s Christmas Festival

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Daniel Reed
  • 173FW

The sound of sleigh bells jingling and reindeer didn’t accompany Santa’s arrival this year as he upgraded his sleigh to an F-15C Eagle for his arrival to Kingsley Field. The 173rd Fighter Wing held its annual Children’s Christmas Festival at Kingsley Field, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Dec. 2, 2023.

Preparing for Santas arrival requires a lot of effort put forth by many different people. The entire 173rd Fighter Wing Resiliency Operations Center gathered its resources and reached out to the local community to ensure this event was a success.

“We typically start preparing for the December drill festivities as early as September,” said Chief Master Sgt. Barbara Bennett, 173rd FW Human Resource Advisor.  She added that there are both internal and external agencies that had to be coordinated with to make this event happen.  

The festival began with Santa arriving in the F-15C Eagle which made its way to the Kingsley Field Fire Department where Santa greeted waiting children and their families adorned in holiday clothing. Santa climbed the ladder down and waved to the crowd as he led the parade of people through the fire department doors.

Inside the bay, organizers provided tables full of cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee donated by Starbucks for everyone to enjoy as Santa made his rounds before sitting down to hear the Christmas wishes of each child.

From the Fire Department people disbursed to various locations around the base. The 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron hosted a cake walk where children raced around a large circle while music played--listening intently so they could jump into the nearest seat the instant the music stopped. Each chair had a number and children waited to hear if theirs was selected; if so, they had the choice of one of many cakes to take as their prize. Rumor has it every child who participated walked away with a treat! 

The team at the 173rd Resiliency Operations Center provided children with a variety of items such as, toys, books, candy, and games all donated by the Dollar Tree through Operation Homefront. Children perused tables piled full of items and loaded their boxes with treasures as they went.

“There’s so much excitement and joy on the kid’s faces, and we try to make it as simple and streamlined as possible by organizing the toys ahead of time and providing bags so that families can easily walk through and make their selections together,” said Bennett.  “It’s fun to watch the parents play with some of the toys too.  Pure MAGIC!” 

Wrapping up the festivities members and their families made their way to the base theater where they waited in line for their turn to walk up on the stage filled with an abundance of presents donated by EC Electric, as music played in the background. The presents covered a variety of ages and no one left empty handed and provided an opportunity for people to connect with each other as they made their way across the base.  

“I think the overall goal is to provide morale, opportunity for connection with each other and our families, and to spread some holiday cheer,” added Bennett. “The process itself is a pretty well-oiled machine by now, and from my perspective the entire event went the way we intended for it to, if not better.”

She emphasized that it is the team effort that allows this event to happen seamlessly every year.   

“The event is successful each year because of the generous giving spirits, efforts and contributions of our Kingsley Airmen and local communities coming together to make the afternoon special for our members and their families,” said Bennet.