Operation Appreciation festival celebrates Armed Forces Day

Operation Appreciation festival celebrates Armed Forces Day
About 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival. Food and carnival rides are free to active duty military and their families. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — The upcoming Operation Appreciation festival is being held as a way to say thank you to active duty military and their families. The annual beachside festival is held at the Pier Amphitheater on Armed Forces Day, May 17, the third Saturday of May.

Over 10,000 participants are expected to attend. Half of those in attendance will be active duty military and their families from Camp Pendleton.

“It’s one of my favorite events,” Kristi Hawthorne, Oceanside Chamber Of Commerce events coordinator, said. “We as a community get together to feed them, give them a day of fun, and hope they feel appreciated.”

The day will treat active duty military to a hot lunch provided by local restaurants, and an afternoon of entertainment, carnival rides, and game booths. The carnival area includes inflatable jumps, a rock climbing wall, and kid’s crafts.

There will also be displays of military vehicles on the beach from the Marine Corps Mechanized Museum. Young and old can climb aboard and explore the massive land and sea vehicles.

The giant L-Cat landing catamaran that travels on land and water will make a beach landing at about 7 a.m., and be part of the display.

Nonmilitary can purchase food from venders, and carnival ride tickets that help support the event.

Most importantly community members have an opportunity to thank our military and their families for their service.

“I encourage you to come out if you really want to meet some wonderful men and women who have given their all,” David Nydegger, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce CEO, said.

About 40 volunteers help with food service and keep the event running smoothly. Many of the volunteers are retired military who understand and appreciate the service of active duty military and their families.

“We love to have people there to support this event,” Hawthorne said. “It’s away to give back.

“Volunteers help the event run smoothly so military families can have a great day and feel appreciated.”

Operation Appreciation was first held in 2002 as a way to give back and thank military men and women following 9/11.

It continues to be an annual day of appreciation organized by the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, and supported by the city, local businesses and nonprofits.

This year’s event will be held May 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Active duty military and their families are asked to bring military ID.

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