OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is readying for the annual Operation Appreciation celebration to honor active duty military and their families.
The yearly celebration is held on Armed Forces Day to salute the military, and say thank you with a hot lunch, live music, booths and carnival rides at the Oceanside Pier.
“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.
Oceanside Chamber of Commerce began hosting the event following 9/11. Local restaurants, businesses, volunteers, and the city were quick to support the efforts.
The day is a mix of annual traditions and new highlights.
Before the event begins the Navy L-Cat landing catamaran pulls up from the water and drives onto the beach at 7 a.m.
The Marine Corps Mechanized Museum displays historical military land and sea vehicles that kids and families can climb aboard.
A crowd favorite is the Marine explosive ordinance team robot. In military operations it deactivates explosives. At the event it greets and shakes hands with children.
“It’s exciting for the general public to meet the face behind that job,” Kristi Hawthorne, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce events coordinator, said. “Marines are treated like rock stars. They love to talk about what they do.”
“It’s an event with a true purpose.”
There is also a large carnival area with interactive booths, a Tilt-A-Whir, and bounce house.
Another event highlight is the Chargers cheerleaders’ performance.
“With food, Chargers girls, what’s not to love,” Hawthorne said.
Food and activities are free to active duty military and their families with identification. Community members are invited to join in the day, thank our military, and purchase food and carnival ride tickets. About 5,000 active duty, and 5,000 civilians are expected to attend.
Operation Appreciation will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 16 at the Pier Amphitheater.