Team Kadena, local community members trick-or-treat
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 180 local community members joined military families on their quest for Halloween candy here Oct. 31.
Sponsored by the 18th Wing, Okinawan people from communities surrounding Kadena Air Base were specially invited to join in celebrating the holiday trick-or-treating.
"Halloween is becoming a widely recognized event in Japan and Okinawa," said Sayaka Kawatake, 18th Wing Public Affairs community relations specialist. "We have Halloween costume contests in local shopping areas. I see Halloween decorations everywhere like local shops, restaurants and customer service sections, taking an opportunity to enjoy American festivity."
Local community members gathered at the Chibana Golf Course and were greeted by Gen. James B. Hecker, 18th Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymon Colon-Lopez, 18th WG command chief.
After introductions were made, five buses filled with parents and children rode to base housing to begin the trick-or-treating festivities. Pumpkin Patrol volunteers escorted small groups throughout housing.
"I think it's good to let the children of Okinawa come on base and see how American culture is," Staff Sgt. Christopher Price, 18th Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion specialist and Pumpkin Patrol volunteer. "It's fun to see the kids' faces when they get candy."
For Miwa Machida and her son, Yoshimasa, 4, it was their first time to walk around on base.
"It was a great experience for us," said Machida. "Even adults were in costume and enjoying like the kids; you don't see that off base.
"We definitely plan on coming back, and I appreciate the staff and volunteers who escorted and helped us very much," she added.
Although Halloween has been celebrated in the U.S. since the mid-19th century, the holiday celebrations have grown significantly in Japan in the past decade.