Tens of thousands visit Yokota during annual festival
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- This year's annual Japanese-American Friendship festival gave 185,000 visitors an opportunity to visit Yokota Sept. 19-20.
The festival was an opportunity for visitors to experience American fun and culture, while strengthening the bonds between Yokota and the local communities.
"This is truly an amazing event that highlights the enduring partnership between our countries, and we are honored to have our Japanese community members here to celebrate with us," said Col. Douglass DeLaMater, 374th Airlift Wing commander.
To better help visitors understand the mission and role of Yokota Air Base in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region, DeLaMater encouraged visitors to interact with the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines participating in the festival.
"Every year, we are proud to host this event because it provides a unique view of our service members and their vital mission in the Pacific region. It also gives us an opportunity to thank you for your continued support of Yokota Air Base," DeLaMater said.
The event included a variety of food and product vendors, activities and events.
Twelve onstage performances drew thousands of spectators. The strongman competition challenged competitors to lift weights, walk with heavy objects and pull a truck. Performers displayed a variety of dances, including belly, tanabada and hula dances. Taiko drummers, Okinawan drummers, an impersonator and others also performed.
On the runway Yokota hosted a drag car demonstration as well as the Tokyo Metro-Police motorcycle demonstration.
Visitors had the opportunity to enjoy 26 live musical groups playing a variety of styles, including several kinds of rock, bluegrass, Japanese and American pop and ska. The Pacific Air Forces band also performed a variety of musical flavors.
Eighty-seven vendors filled the flight line with a variety of food including steaks, soda cakes and MREs, and merchandise like t-shirts, hats, patches and keychains.
"Working the booth was really fun," said Senior Airman Mike Dalleo, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "I met a lot of Japanese people and practiced my Japanese. I think the festival is a great way for the people outside the gate to get in here and see what we do. It helps us understand each other."
One of the main attractions, the aircraft static display, drew tens of thousands of people, many lining up to see the inside of Japanese and U.S. aircraft. Aircrew stood by many of the aircraft, interacting with visitors and posing with them for photographs. Some of the aircraft on display included two C-130 Hercules, an MV-22 Osprey, F-15 Eagle, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-2 Mitsubishi and CH-47 Chinook. Festivalgoers rushed to photograph aircraft taking off and landing for normal operations throughout the day, as well as the two C-130s which dropped parachuting U.S. soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).
After the static aircraft display closed in the evening, crowds moved to the other half of the flightline to eat, dance and enjoy the festival. The two-day event closed with a fireworks display, signaling the end of the festival and expressing the continuing friendship between America and Japan.