Tinsel Town reigns during holiday season
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- From beneath umbrellas and hooded coats, service members and their families brought in the holiday season with the annual Tinsel Town holiday festival at the Schilling Community Center Dec. 1.
Despite dark skies and a constant Okinawan drizzle in the air, the event gave a merry light to the crowd with games, children's rides, concessions, prize giveaways and concerts by several bands including country music star Trace Adkins during his USO tour.
"It's an annual event that's been going on," said Katy Larson, Schilling Community Center director. "It may not have had the Tinsel Town name, because it's kind of evolved over the years, but traditionally there's always been a tree lighting ceremony."
Larson, who's been on the island since mid-2011, said events like Tinsel Town are important to give service members a little taste of home and family fellowship, despite being stationed so far from home.
"For the active duty military and their family members, the (Department of Defense) civilians and the (DoD Dependent School) teachers, we are so far from home and it's just a kick off to the holiday celebration," Larson said. "Large events like these are about giving back to the community. To me, that's what's important."
Larson said the event featured roughly 65 separate vendors, organizations, crafters and volunteers from on- and off-base facilities, promoting a positive relationship with service members and the local community.
Larson said, "I know in the last two years we've really tried to provide activities that provide not only the slice of home, but even infuse some of the Okinawan culture."
The Schilling Community, which has historically featured parades and other surprises over the years, fully intends to host Tinsel Town again next year.