Story by Karen Iwamoto on 03/29/2018SCHOFIELD BARRACKS Staff at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation were busy, last week, finishing up the details for Saturday's FunFest, including stuffing over 20,000 plastic Easter eggs with candy and toys for the estimated 4,500 expected participants.
This annual festival, which celebrates spring, Easter and Earth Day, plus the Leisure & Travel Services Fair, combines to become one of the biggest annual installation family events held here.
In addition to Easter egg hunts, photos with the Easter bunny, games, rides, live entertainment and food booths, recreational vendors from around the island will be there to offer prize giveaways, and the Directorate of Public Works is offering a host of Earth Day activities.
Exceptional Family exclusives
New this year is a special area designed specifically for children diagnosed with a developmental delay, a life-threatening illness, disability or chronic medical condition, and their families.
"We wanted to have this for these families because we know it can be hard for them at events like this, which are long and can be hot in the outdoors," said Mary Negron, Special Events chief for FMWR. "We want them to feel included."
FMWR partnered with Tripler Army Medical Center to create the Exceptional Family Members area.
In addition to an Easter egg hunt and a chance to meet the Easter bunny, it will feature static displays and a Soldier medical evacuation demonstration.
Additionally, the Little Warrior Games will allow children to participate in an obstacle course, a field battle exercise and range training. The children will participate in teams with assistance from volunteers.
"The Little Warrior Games (were) created to allow children with neurodevelopmental disabilities to be Soldiers' even for a few hours," said Maj. Rahe Hiraldo, chief of Child Neurology at TAMC. "Moreover, they'll get to be part of a team (and) show the world that despite their potential disabilities, they can do so much more than what they are typically expected to."
Just as Soldiers have sworn never to leave a fallen comrade behind, so should they also do their best to support and include all family members, she added.
Hiraldo said making permanent change of station moves and preparing for deployments can be especially challenging for Exceptional Family Members, and that TAMC is dedicated to working with FMWR and Army Community Service to alleviate these difficulties by offering family travel screenings, assisting with medical needs, conducting child development screenings and coordinating health insurance benefits.
She said that teaming up with U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and FMWR for Fun Fest is just one more way to support Exceptional Family Members.
Earth Day activities
Caring for the earth is another priority for the Army, and even though Earth Day isn't until April 22, Earth Day activities have long been big part of the Fun Fest celebration.
This year, families can expect interactive exhibits from organizations inside and outside the Army. Hui O Na Wahine, the Schofield Barracks spouses club, will set up an area for kids to draw and color on special "seeded" paper that can later be planted in a garden. The Hawaii Beekeepers Association will be on hand with a demonstrative beehive honey tasting and a beehive outfit that guests may try on and take selfies in.
The Army's Natural Resources Program on Oahu will have outreach teams there, and the Army's Cultural Resources Program will have an interactive archeological excavation exhibit.
Attendees may also meet with representatives from Malama Na Honu, an organization dedicated to preserving the Hawaiian green sea turtle, and learn about hurricane preparedness from representatives from the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization & Security.
"We hope people come and learn about Hawaii's unique environment," said Frederick Miller, program manager of DPW's Compliance Branch, who coordinated this year's Earth Day activities. "We also want to show them what the Army is doing to help preserve our environment."
Travel and leisure opportunities
While the kids burn off energy on Easter egg hunts, bounce houses, rides and games, parents can find shade at the LTS Travel Fair, where vendors from hotels, cruise ships, luaus and other attractions will be on hand to answer questions and promote their attractions.
"It's a great time for them to come see what's available here in Hawaii because it's right before May, which is Military Appreciation Month, and they can also plan for their summer vacation," said LTS Program Manager Joselynn Mitsuda.
"Our vendors look forward to this event every year," she added. "They attend events at the other military installations, but they always get the best turnout at this one because it's such a family friendly event."
More than 30 vendors representing submarine tour companies, dinner cruise companies, hotels, luaus and live entertainment will be there, and will be promoting special deals for military personnel.
Army families can fill out their Travel Fair passport a booklet to be stamped by all of the vendors to be entered into hourly prize giveaways. Prizes may include trips, hotel stays, cruises and more.
The grand prize giveaway a $500 LTS gift certificate will be announced at 1:45 p.m.
Leisure Travel Services
To find out more about the services offered by LTS, visit https://armymwr.com/programs/leisure-travel-services or contact 655-9971.
2018 Fun Fest, Earth Day and LTS Travel Fair
9 a.m.-2 p.m., March 31
Location: Weyand Field
Free admission to Department of Defense cardholders and their guests.
Easter Egg Hunts
11 a.m.: Ages 0-2 (one adult per child allowed)
11:15 a.m.: Ages 3-5 (one adult per child allowed)
11:30 a.m.: Ages 6-8 (no adults allowed)
11:45 a.m.: Ages 9-12 (no adults allowed)
Exceptional Family Member Easter Egg Hunt
Exceptional Family Members are asked to check in at the EFMP tent ahead of time to obtain a wristband.