JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The United Service Organizations (USO) Council of St. Augustine, Fla., and many of the city's tourist attractions hosted Pal Day in downtown St. Augustine Dec.6.
Pal Day is a special day set aside the first Saturday in December, specifically for Florida First Coast military members and their families to enjoy the city's attractions free of charge.
Hundreds of service members and their families, many proudly wearing military uniforms, turned out Saturday in the nation's oldest city to spend a few hours visiting the sights and watching the annual Christmas parade.
"Today is USO Pal Day, so we came to celebrate and enjoy the parade. I brought the kids down so they could enjoy some Christmas cheer, and we're visiting some of the sights," said Lt. Cmdr. Brent George of Naval Air Depot, Jacksonvile, who brought along his three sons, Emmett, Keirnan and Brennan.
"It's really nice for the City of St. Augustine to do this for us. We really appreciate it," added Air Traffic Controlman Steven Damit of Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, who was with his two daughters, Sara and Christine.
The first Pal Day was held in 1957, when the USO council in St. Augustine wanted to recognize military members and their families and provide them with something special. The event proved so successful that it has continued annually on the first Saturday in December. By opening their doors for free, the city's businesses get a chance to show their appreciation to those service members who serve our country and defend our freedom.
"We really enjoyed visiting the fort and old town. Pal Day is a great time," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Enrique Berrios of the NAS Jax Naval Hospital, who brought his two sons, Robert and Louis, along.
Military families enjoyed favorite attractions, such as Ripley's Believe It or Not, 3D World, The Fountain of Youth, Alligator Farm, trolley rides, Potter's Wax Museum, Castillo de San Marcos and numerous other attractions.
"This is the fourth time I've visited St. Augustine during Pal Day. It's really a great event," explained Aviation Electrician's Mate 1st Class Frank Primm of Patrol Squadron (VP) 24. "I really enjoyed Ripley's Believe It or Not."
Although the city was bustling with tourists and locals who came out for the parade, Pal Day gave military members a nice way to spend some quality time away from work and with their families.
For related news, visit the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/nasjax.