NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Service members, Department of Defense civilians, dependents and local Italians came together at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples' Carney Park for Festa Americana, June 29.
The annual event, sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), is to celebrate the United States' Independence Day with the Naples community.
Cmdr. Robert Barbee, NSA Naples executive officer, and the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band kicked off the event at 1 p.m. with an opening ceremony and the celebration lasted until midnight.
The event featured a softball tournament, food vendors, a hot dog eating contest, carnival rides, live music performances, a pie eating contest and a high-wire stunt act.
"This is my first time here, actually, but so far this has been a great event," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Raymundo Aguilar. "Coming from San Diego we had events like this, but this event has been by far the best."
One of the things Aguilar found particularly memorable was the food booths, set up by many of the volunteer organizations from the NSA Naples community, offering a variety of foods from the U.S.
"The food, that's the best thing out here so far," said Aguilar. "You got a mixture of everything and coming from stateside that's good. It brings a little taste back to my heritage."
Serving up coleslaw and pulled pork sandwiches at one of the food booths was another first-timer to Festa Americana, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Vincent Gamboa.
"I thought it was great," said Gamboa. "I had a lot of fun volunteering and giving people a little taste of pulled pork and true coleslaw."
The festival concluded in the evening with a fireworks display during a performance by the "Willy Pete" band at 10 p.m.
The event was the culmination of a lot of hard-work, behind the scenes, by an army of volunteers and organizations. One such volunteer, Cathy Knapp, has been helping out with Festa Americana since 2000.
"Festa Americana is a great event," said Knapp. "I hope everybody comes out and enjoys themselves. It's really just a day to relax and enjoy. To think about all those who have sacrificed for us so that we can enjoy our lives whether we be in the states or overseas. It's a really nice event."
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