CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
It was a spring day hot enough for T-shirts, shorts and sunblock as children ate snow cones drenched in cherry syrup.
This was the scene during the 18th annual Kids First Fair held at the Paige Fieldhouse here by Marine and Family Programs April 27.
"Kids First Fair is in recognition of the month of the military child and child abuse awareness month," said Toni Telebar, the Children, Youth and Teen Program resource and referral specialist with Marine and Family Programs. "At the fair, we have the opportunity to highlight our children's talents and provide resources to our families."
The event was free for military families and provided entertainment complete with a pirate named Captain Book with Pendleton's mobile library, an exhibition by little ninjas with the Oceanside Shorin-Ryu Karate, pony rides and a petting zoo.
Sarah Schemel, a military spouse, and her two daughters have attended the kids fair in the past and enjoyed it so much that they returned this year.
"I think it's a fantastic event," said Schemel. "It really gets constructive information out there especially for families that have recently moved here and are trying to find activities for their kids."
San Diego local, Mary Estime, is a mother of three and military spouse who said she appreciates events that give back to military families.
"We're a one income family and because we are away from our family and friends we don't have additional resources for child care," explained Mary Estime, a San Diego local, mother of three and military spouse. "Having events like this gives us something to do on our Saturday that doesn't cost us any extra money."
Telebar said a variety of exhibitors, from organizations on and off the installation, had an opportunity to speak with parents about resources available to assist military families.
"Many parents, especially those who have recently (received permanent change of station orders) to Camp Pendleton are not familiar with the resources in the community," said Telebar. "Kids First Fair gives families the opportunity to connect with these resources and interface with their representatives at the booths."
"This year, our event's theme was 'kids are superheroes' and our theme revolves around the fact that military children are resilient and strong," said Telebar. "They are our heroes!"
Contact Cpl. Derrick K. Irions at firstname.lastname@example.org