Kadena celebrates holidays with Tinsel Town

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Clear skies and a sunny day set the stage for Tinsel Town to kick off the holiday season for service members and their families stationed on Okinawa. The event featured games, children's rides, concession stands, prize giveaways, performances and was headlined by John Legend.

 "It's an annual event that's been going on," said Bilgen Olson, Schilling Community Center entertainment coordinator. "It feels great seeing that many people out there and everyone looked happy."

 Olson, who's been on the island since February of 2014, said community events like Tinsel Town are important for morale and give service members and their families a little taste of home and fellowship, despite being stationed far from their loved ones.

 Airmen like Senior Airman Cuong Pham, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator, volunteered at the event dressed as holiday icons. Dressed as a reindeer, Pham helped embody the holiday spirit.

 "Volunteering for Tinsel Town has been fun," Pham said. "It's a great way to get out of the dorms and is really good for morale."
 It's also a great way to forget, for a moment, to forget that we're away from our loved ones, Pham continued.

 "We are here away from our families and country," Olson said. "Large events like these are about giving back to the community. To me, that's what's important."

 Tinsel Town featured more than 65 separate vendors, organizations, crafters and volunteers from on and off the installation, promoting a positive relationship with service members and the local community.

 "It feels great seeing that many people came out today," said Olson. "It makes me happy. This is all possible because of the hard work and dedication of the volunteers and everyone that makes up Team Kadena."

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