S

hame on me.

Iíve been at Fort Bragg for almost nine years and I rarely take advantage of the services and opportunities available on the installation. Iíve vowed to change my ways after my recent experience at Smith Lake.

I attended Fort Braggís Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation 6th Annual Volksmarch and Festival, Oct. 19. This was not the first time Iíve attended the event, but it was the first time Iíve attended as a guest instead of covering it for the Paraglide.

I purchased my ticket in advance at Leisure Travel Services for the bargain price of $5 earlier that week.

My husband was out of town during the Volksmarch, so I loaded up my 2-year-old, twin girls and the running stroller and drove out to Smith Lake on the gray and drizzly Saturday morning.

When we arrived, we were greeted pleasantly and I received three tickets for the drawing for a free Volksmarch T-shirt. The girls each got a bracelet that would allow them to get a free pumpkin to decorate and I got my sassy Volksmarch mug.

From there, the girls went running through the pumpkin patch to select their pumpkins with as much care as a toddler can possibly possess.

I decided to forgo the decorating portion of the venture and, after getting free balloons from one of the vendors at the event, we set off for the marching portion of the day.

So, I may have missed a turn and done the course backwards, but it was still a lot of fun and a good workout. Pushing a double-stroller uphill across sandy trails was enough adventure for me.

From there, I took the girls to the bounce house. A little nervous about the bigger children playing in the area, I asked the two gentlemen operating the bounce houses and accompanying slide if my children were too small to play. They said nope and directed me to the one on the far left that was empty.

The girls had a blast and I think they were even more comfortable because I was allowed to take my shoes off and go sit in the corner with them. What made it even better was that the staff directed the bigger children who wanted to play to the other bounce house while the girls and I were in there.

Once the girls were done playing, the workers helped me get them out and even held them while I put my shoes back on, as well as helping me get the cracker crumbs that had accumulated during the day out of the stroller.

Right after that, my number was called and I found out that I had won a free T-shirt.

All of that for only $5.

I have no excuses for not going to more events on post. I definitely know about them, given the nature of my job. I donít live extremely far from the installation. Most of the events are free or relatively inexpensive.† The majority of them are geared towards Families with children.

So, youíll be seeing me around Fort Bragg on the weekends a lot more often now with my two little ladybugs in tow. I hope to see you there, too.