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Festival brings holiday cheer to children

Mr. and Mrs. Claus greet children at the front door of the Children’s Holiday Festival Dec. 6, 2014, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Nearly 1,700 people attended the 14th annual Schriever event. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

Mr. and Mrs. Claus greet children at the front door of the Children’s Holiday Festival Dec. 6, 2014, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Nearly 1,700 people attended the 14th annual Schriever event. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

Elsa greets family members during the Children’s Holiday Festival Dec. 6, 2014, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The event featured four bounce castles, face painting and a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus as well as a complimentary lunch. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

Elsa greets family members during the Children’s Holiday Festival Dec. 6, 2014, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The event featured four bounce castles, face painting and a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus as well as a complimentary lunch. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- There were kids singing, face painters painting, bounce castles bouncing, and the Clauses cheering as children and loved ones gathered at the Schriever Children's Holiday Festival. 

Nearly 1,700 children and their brothers, sisters, moms, dads and grandparents filled the base fitness center to partake in the festival Dec. 6 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

How does one provide all the food, entertainment and manpower for such an event you ask?

Thea Wasche, 50th Force Support deputy commander, knows firsthand just how much coordination goes into planning such a large-scale event.

"I've been planning this event for about the last three months," she said. "It took about 120 volunteers from start to finish, but it was well worth it."

Wasche and the 50 FSS deemed it a winter wonderland success.

"There was a line at the door before we were supposed to open," Wasche said. "We were happy to let people in early. They were so excited."

Even after more than a decade, the festival still manages to add something new each year.

"We are always looking to do something different than we did last year," said Wasche. "This year, we included the movie Frozen as part of the theme. But we also reused a lot of the same decorations. We try to save as much as possible."

Wasche said her favorite part of the event is meeting the families and their children.

"I love seeing the kids having fun," she said. "They were having so much fun we almost ran out of prizes."

Steve Sarandos, 50 FSS, also played a vital role in the making the event a reality.

"I coordinated the sponsors for the event," said Sarandos. "They come out for all of the annual events. And they always enjoy themselves."

He said one of his favorite parts of the event was seeing leadership dressed up as movie characters.

"A commander was dressed up as Kristoff from Frozen," said Sarandos. "The costumes get more elaborate every year."

At the end of the event, the 50 FSS held a drawing for prizes that included a tablet, bikes with helmets, gift cards and much more.

"The event was outstanding," he added. "Watching the families interacting with their children and seeing the camaraderie is why I love my job."

Sarandos said the feedback for the event was phenomenal.

"Everyone loved it," he said.
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