Fort Bragg’s mini mall hosted its first Family Fun Day July 18 in conjunction with Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR).

Outside, a dunking booth was set up. Louie Matsuki, 5, threw the ball and hit the bulls-eye, but not with enough force to release the seat and dunk the man in the water, so Yajaira Jimenez-Caban, mini mall food court manager, slammed it home.

Other kids gathered around the cotton candy machine, reaching out for their pink fluff of candy.

Inside, four-year-old Ethan Thunell’s face was painted like a tiger. His sister, Elena Thunell, 2, got her face painted with a rainbow and clouds. Mother Tatiana Thunell heard about the event on Facebook and took her children to the mini mall. Before getting their faces painted, the children colored pictures of Soldiers and played in the bounce house.

Ethan popped in a piece of chewing gum while his mother opened a Tootsie Roll for Elena.

They were out of the bounce house when it collapsed with kids still inside. Neither the parents, nor the kids seemed concerned.The workers seemed to be the only ones and were able to get the children out and the bounce house back up and running quickly.

Yndira Molina called to her two-year-old son Matthew Tonin who was bouncing around Big Hero 6, giving him high fives.

“He’s so happy,” she said. “He loves it.”

At a table on the edge of the food court, an announcer called for male volunteers to participate in a hot dog eating contest. Two females, Diane Sanchez and Kandis Walbeck, had already signed up.

Cpl. Benjamin Parette, 3rd Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment (3-58 AOB), agreed to join the match.

Walbeck was poised to win in the beginning. While Sanchez to the right of her and Parette to the left of her ate their hot dogs whole, she had formed a strategy – eat the weiners first, then the bun.

Sanchez and Parette noticed this strategy seemed to be working, and they started doing so as well. Still eating, Parette pushed his second plate toward Walbeck. She pushed it back, along with her second plate, amusing the crowd.

Since the girl’s hot dogs were broken apart and half eaten, the judge had a hard time determining who won, but it wasn’t Parette, who had a mound of bread torn up on his plate.

He asked the crowd to be the judge. He numbered off the contestants--Parette was one; Walbeck was two; Sanchez was three.

“Give some noise for contestant number one!”

“Give some noise for contestant number two!”

“Contestant number three!”

The cheers from all three rang out, and it was too hard for him to tell them apart, so he declared them all winners, much to Walbeck’s frustration.