{mosimage} In the old days, people called them “military brats.” Today, it seems more appropriate to call them heroes. In war time, military children carry a heavy load. While their parents are away, they are left to wonder and worry. Just as their parents sacrifice, they sacrifice as well.
    So it’s only fitting that they are celebrated and Fort Bragg knows just how to do it. In celebration of the Month of the Military Child, Fort Bragg’s Child and Youth Services, along with the Special Events Division, is hosting the 16th Annual Children’s Fest on Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds off Bragg Boulevard.
    “This event is geared toward children in a very safe environment,” said Gudrun Blackmon, event coordinator. “Last year we had 4,200 people in attendance for this event.”
    The festival is an annual event in honor of the military child. More than 1.7 million children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the military. Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and the U.S. Department of Defense established April as the Month of the Military Child in 1986, underscoring the importance of military children and their role in military families.
    “Military families are unique and the children deserve recognition,” said Blackmon. “They are important to us.”
Carnival rides, specialty acts, face painting, a climbing wall, kiddie rappel and jump tower, live entertainment, static display, artillery equipment and a  parachute packing demonstration will be highlighted.
    “The kiddie rappel and jump tower gives the children an idea of what mom and dad do in the military,” said Blackmon. “The whole experience includes activities that are educational as well.”
Toddlerville includes developmentally age-appropriate activities such as sand art and water games that will be held underneath a huge tent. Local food vendors will sell food items such as funnel cakes, fish plates, tacos and a variety of other foods.
    The Fort Bragg Fire Engine and Smokehouse will be on site to teach the children about fire safety. The Provost Marshal’s office will set up a traffic simulator, discuss seat belt safety and several police vehicles will be on display to inform the students about crime prevention. A.C. Moore will do arts and crafts activities with the children.
    There will be prizes, with items including a computer, an iPod Shuffle and four Carowinds Tickets. The winner must be present to win.
    “Our sponsors have been really good to us,” said Blackmon. “We encourage everyone to come out and support our event.”
    The event is open to the public. Admission is $2 for non-riders and $5 for riders. The first 400 paid children will receive a T-shirt. For more information, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com or call 396-8110 or 396-1278. 

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