Community hosts picnic for Hill military and families

Community hosts picnic for Hill military and families

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Top of Utah Military Affairs Committee invites all active-duty, Guard and Reserve military and family members to join in the annual “Salute to Our Nation’s Defenders Picnic” July 8 at Centennial Park.

This free picnic will run 3-7 p.m., with catered food, provided by the restaurant Gatronomy Inc., available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sign-up for the event can be done through unit first sergeants.

This will be the 16th year TOUMAC has sponsored the “Salute Picnic.” The first event, held Dec. 7, 2001, attracted approximately 350 people. This year, the committee is planning for more than 3,500 to attend.

“This event began as a welcome-home celebration for the military deployed following 9/11,” said Bob Ekstrom, the Salute Picnic vice chair. “As the ops tempo increased and deployments continued throughout the years, it has evolved into an Annual Salute to Our Nation’s Defenders Picnic held in the summer.”

“We are excited about the continual growth of the event,” he added, “and the fact that we will be serving 10 times the number of those who attended our first event.”

The Salute Picnic will feature entertainment by the band Red Shot Pony, as well as activities for all ages, including a large selection of wet and dry inflatables, a rock wall, access to the Splash Pad adjacent to Centennial Park, face painting and kid-friendly foods. There will be kite fliers, and the 75th Security Forces Squadron’s K-9 team will perform a demonstration.

There will also be a 96-foot timed course for the Airman Warrior Challenge that will include inflatable wet obstacles and a gunny sack race to the finish line. Prizes will be awarded.

“Everything is free,” said Ekstrom. “Come in picnic attire and plan to get wet.”

TOUMAC members and community leaders plan to attend and have volunteered to serve food, bus tables and take out the garbage.

“Many of our committee have attended every year since the beginning, and others have attended for as long as they have been involved in TOUMAC,” said Barbara S. Riddle, chair for the Salute Picnic “Participating in this event is a highlight of the year for many, and they graciously volunteer year after year.”

TOUMAC is a joint committee between the Davis Chamber of Commerce and the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce. It sponsors other events for Hill’s military and civilian employees, including military appreciation nights at the Ogden Raptors baseball games and at Weber State University football games The group also sponsors a Newcomers Social to welcome newly assigned military into the community and support base-recognition programs and quality-of-life programs for the military and their families.

“Our Salute Picnic provides a great way to give back to the military and their families and simply say thanks for the many sacrifices they make in protecting our freedom,” Riddle said.

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