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Holiday celebration draws children to the Air Guard

Staff Sgt. Melissa Longhofer, an orderly room administrator with the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, plays bingo with her daughter during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

Staff Sgt. Melissa Longhofer, an orderly room administrator with the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, plays bingo with her daughter during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The daughter and son of Senior Airman Jose Lopez Castro, a crew chief for the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, talk with Santa Claus during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The daughter and son of Senior Airman Jose Lopez Castro, a crew chief for the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, talk with Santa Claus during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The son of Staff Sgt. Tiffany Downs, a logistics specialist with the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, picks our a prize during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and face-painting for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The son of Staff Sgt. Tiffany Downs, a logistics specialist with the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, picks our a prize during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and face-painting for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The daughter of Staff Sgt. Darrell Hinton, a structures specialist with the 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, gets her face painted during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The daughter of Staff Sgt. Darrell Hinton, a structures specialist with the 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, gets her face painted during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Holland, a computer support specialist with the 123rd Communications Flight, watches with his wife, Amber Holland, as their daughter colors a Christmas tree during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Holland, a computer support specialist with the 123rd Communications Flight, watches with his wife, Amber Holland, as their daughter colors a Christmas tree during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The son of Staff Sgt. James Edington, a crew chief in the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, plays a game during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The son of Staff Sgt. James Edington, a crew chief in the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, plays a game during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. The annual event also offered snacks and prizes for the more than 85 children who participated. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Maxwell Rechel)

The wife of Staff Sgt. Brian Noe helps her daughter play a game during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. More than 85 children turned out for the annual event, which also featured face-painting and visits with Santa Claus. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Airman Basic Joshua L. Horton)

The wife of Staff Sgt. Brian Noe helps her daughter play a game during the 123rd Airlift Wing’s family holiday party at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 2, 2012. More than 85 children turned out for the annual event, which also featured face-painting and visits with Santa Claus. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Airman Basic Joshua L. Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Christmas came a little early this year for the children of Kentucky Air National Guard members when Santa stopped by the 123rd Airlift Wing for the unit's family holiday celebration Dec. 2.

More than 85 boys and girls turned out for the annual party, which provided each youngster with the opportunity to pose for a picture with Santa and take home a sack full of presents donated by area businesses, said Dave Rooney, program manager for the wing's Airman and Family Readiness Group.

"I believe it was probably our best children's Christmas party yet," Rooney said. "This is my fifth one, and it seems to get bigger year after year after year."

Rooney expressed his gratitude to the more than 20 volunteers who operated games, painted faces and handed out door prizes during the celebration.

"A big thanks to Ms. Sharon Williams, our top volunteer, for a lot of the planning, and to our key volunteer groups, who were instrumental in the party's success," he said. "Their contributions were huge."