News: Yokosuka celebrates spring during their Spring Festival
Story by Paul Long
YOKOSUKA, Japan-- Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka celebrated its 20th Annual Spring Festival by opening the gates to the Japanese public, March 24.
According to Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and Yokosuka city officials, more than 29,000 Japanese residents came onto the base which gave them a chance to interact with Sailors and the FLEACT, Yokosuka community. Events included live entertainment, visits aboard an American warship, carnival games, a football game and American food.
Yokosuka’s mayor, Yuto Yoshida and Commander, FLEACT, Yokosuka (CFAY) Capt. David Owen addressed the crowd during the opening ceremony.
“The U.S. - Japan Spring Festival has served for many years to draw people together from Yokosuka city and the surrounding community,” said Yoshida. “I believe this as a truly meaningful celebration for Yokosuka city.”
“Thank you all for coming to visit our base today on this wonderful occasion to celebrate the great friendship between Yokosuka City and the U.S. Navy in the beautiful atmosphere naturally decorated with beautiful cherry blossoms and I am proud to welcome you all,” said Owen. “It seems like only yesterday that we were here enjoying the last year’s blooms.”
Guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) welcomed almost 5,000 visitors aboard during tours of the ship, according to Command Master Chief Steven Synder.
“I think it was a win/win situation for the U.S. and the Japanese,” Synder said. “The Japanese got to see our ship and it gave my sailors a chance to see how much they’re appreciated by the Japanese people.”
Elaine Ross, a family member who arrived in Japan last October said this event was her first open base festival in Japan.
“I think it was awesome,” Ross said. “I was in Norfolk before this, and it was a closed base; they never did anything like this. I think it’s really neat to bring the Japanese people here.”
Another family member, Maggie Constantino, said that this festival was also her first in Yokosuka.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the Japanese to interact with the American’s on base,” Constantino said. “I think it’s great that they came, and are enjoying the festival and are enjoying the different types of food. I think the camaraderie between the Americans and the Japanese is great.”
MWR and 7th Fleet Band “Orient Express” provided live musical entertainment on stages next to the Bowling Center. Also performing live music was the Zen Band, and the Takeyama Taiko drummers from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. Eagle 810 radio broadcasted live from their booth in front of the bowling alley. Several local dance troupes showcased their dancing talents for the audience to enjoy.
The Yokosuka Seahawks, a local amateur football team, played a pre-season football game against a team of cadets from the National Defense Academy of Japan. The Seahawks won 22 – 6.
Spring Festival is held annually in March and is the start of all of six FLEACT, Yokosuka’s open base community events, including the housing areas of Ikego and Negishi. Due to budget cuts affecting the Department of Defense, the festivals scheduled for both housing areas, have been cancelled. CFAY is awaiting word on whether or not funds will be made available for Yokosuka’s Friendship Day, scheduled for Aug. 3.