OCEANSIDE — Oceanside will roll out its red, white and blue carpet and honor Armed Forces Day with an annual thank you celebration for active-duty military and their families.
The yearly Operation Appreciation event brings the community together at the pier amphitheater for food, carnival rides and live music.
A giant American flag marks the beach recreation center where hot lunch is provided for military families by local restaurants, and served by volunteers who want to give their thanks.
Tables with red and blue umbrellas are set up in front of the amphitheater stage, which has flags posted in front of it from all military branches.
The day is free for active-duty military and their families with ID.
Civilians and retired military are also invited to come down to the pier amphitheater to see military vehicles, business booths, purchase ride tickets and food, and thank our military for their service.
The Oceanside Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual event for Camp Pendleton and area military. Thousands turn up for the annual family fun day.
“We, as a community, get together to feed them, give them a day of fun, and hope they feel appreciated,” Kristi Hawthorne, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce events coordinator, said.
The interactive day allows people to climb aboard parked military land and sea vehicles, and learn about them from an explosive ordinance disposal team that is on hand to answer questions.
A kids zone includes rides, inflatable jumps, a rock climbing wall and crafts.
The day is well received by military families. Past participants have said it’s a great way for military families, who are away from home, to meet new people and get to know area businesses.
A shared sentiment, of military families who attend, is gratitude for the community support.
“It’s awesome Oceanside puts this together,” one enlisted Marine said. “It’s great to get together and be appreciated.”
Operation Appreciation was first held in 2002. It continues to be well supported by the community.
This year’s event is May 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.