OLYMPIA, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 450 service members and civilians enjoyed a relaxing day of yachting, making new friends, and a traditional salmon feast during the 47th annual Foofaraw Military Appreciation day Sept. 5.
Foofaraw, which is sponsored by the Olympia Yacht Club (OYC) and the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, means "frills and flashy finery," or "a disturbance or to-do over a trifle," and was started as a way to show military members stationed in the Puget Sound that they are a valued and vital part of the community.
"It's grown from a few boats to 40, in the past 20-plus years that I have been doing this," said Bob Job, OYC past commodore, retired chief electrician's mate, and skipper of the 48-foot yacht, the Explorer II. "The smile on everyone's face when they are walking off the boat and heading back to their duty stations - that is what makes this all worthwhile."
The festivities began early, with all guests and crew members loading into yachts from the OYC to start the two-hour transit from Olympia to the OYC's private island "Island Home," where all guests were met with gifts, games and a traditional salmon feast prepared by the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis in conjunction with the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce.
"This gives us a chance for us to get to know our civilian neighbors," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Angel Anton, from Naval Base Kitsap. "They get to know us, what we do, and we get to know them in the same way. Meeting these people, many of whom are retired military, Sailors can see that there can be something much more positive down the road for them in the future if they stick with it and work hard."
There was something for everybody to enjoy during the day. Besides great food, horseshoes, volley ball, and beautiful sandy beaches, the climax of the day was tug of war between civilians and each branch of the military.
"We have to have relations with the community, because if something should happen to us, the community will be there as well as the military to take care of our family members, and that is of great importance," said Chief Legalman (SW/AW) Jennifer Hill, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). "Everyone here is very friendly regardless of rank or title or occupation. Everyone is just enjoying themselves and taking the opportunity to get to know others from and around their communities."
"Foofaraw is just a big 'thank you,'" said Bob Connolly, OYC vice commodore. "These are our neighbors, who are defending our country, so why not say 'thanks' and have a good day at it."
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Northwest, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrnw/.