CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 6, 2021) – Although last minute inclement weather forced him to go inside, Camp Zama’s Independence Day celebration drew an enthusiastic crowd and was a huge success for the community, said one of the main organizers of the event.
Held on July 3 inside the facility’s community recreation center, the event featured an afternoon of live music, dance, and US-themed arts and crafts – a small but still lively celebration that the Camp Zama Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation team worked on. hard to guarantee would be memorable for everyone, said Rick Bosch, director of FMWR.
âWe are really proud to offer quality programs to the Camp Zama community,â said Bosch. âDespite the smaller indoor version, attendance at the event exceeded our expectations and we received excellent feedback from the community.â
The theme of Independence Day greeted guests as soon as they entered the room: American flags; red, white and blue balloons; and a brightly dressed Uncle Sam who posed for photos with adults and children.
Inside, employees of the FMWR concession distributed free hot dogs, popcorn, water and soft drinks. A craft section was also set up where kids could paint an American flag plaque or decorate a reusable tote bag.
Shortly after the doors opened, the first of two performances of the US Army Japan Band began in the CRC auditorium. The first was the USARJ Concert Band, whose setlist included a number of orchestral standards and other patriotic tunes. The afternoon was closed with the USARJ Jazz Combo Band, a first pairing of members of the USARJ jazz and brass orchestras.
The five-piece group – a bassist, electric guitarist, keyboardist, saxophonist and drummer – performed nimbly through a catchy 40-minute set that showcased the group’s talent for improvisation.
âWe rehearse, of course, months and months ahead and learn our tunes, but the thing with jazz is we’re malleable,â said Cpl. Asher “Ash” Askew, the band’s bassist, said. âWe learn to work with each other so that when we’re solo we can come up with ideas on the fly. “
This chemistry between players is key when it comes to playing jazz, Askew said. He noted that the group had come together exceptionally well on stage despite the fact that the USARJ group had not held a live concert in an indoor venue for several months due to COVID-19 restrictions.
âThat’s what’s great about this band is that we have so many great musicians,â Askew said. âWhen we asked the Brass Band to collaborate on this, they said to themselves: ‘Awesome’. We already know we can do it.
“See everyone there, enjoy [the music] and dancing, singing and clapping was awesome, âhe continued. “And especially at a time like this, it was such an important time for us to be there, to celebrate our independence.”
The event ended with the lights dimming in the auditorium and several children and parents taking the stage to use the multicolored âlight sticksâ they received at the entrance to the CRC. While a DJ played music, contestants from different age groups competed against each other in a dance, with the winners taking home free theme park tickets.
Jennifer Burns, whose 6-year-old son Lucas won the dance in her age category, said she was happy the facility was able to adjust the event and move it indoors so that the community can celebrate.
“[Independence Day is] our National Day, and I think it brought us all a little closer to home, by hosting an event like this together, âBurns said. âEverything went very well and the kids had a great time, especially the dance party. The community center was a great place to do it.
Bosch said he and the rest of the FMWR team liked to think of themselves as the âbeating heartâ of the Camp Zama community and they pride themselves on being able to host events that will create lasting memories. This mission will continue even as the world continues to face COVID-19, Bosch said.
âIt is more important than ever to offer these types of community events to improve community resilience. We look forward to next month when we partner with [the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force] to celebrate Bon Odori, a significant and important Japanese holiday.