Coraopolis, Pa. --
Operation Santa has a small $5 registration fee per person, but everything in the
Military Carnival is free. It is open to military members and their immediate
families. The event includes many activities for children, picture opportunity with
Santa, snacks and drinks, prizes and many, many presents. Everything is free for
those in attendance.
According to many members of the 171st Air Refueling Wing who attended prior
Operation Santa Military Family Carnivals, the sponsors and workers outperformed
“This is an amazing opportunity for military members,” said Master Sgt. Chad
Lynch, Staff Accountant for Comptroller Flight at the 171st ARW and father of two.
“They outdid themselves. Every year it gets better and better.”
The activities are numerous and there is something for every kid, including face
painting, jewelry making, art activities, balloon figure making and many others. For
the athletically oriented kids, a bouncy house, mini golf course, a baseball
swinging game, nerf gun target shooting and cornhole games were available.
“We were very pleased with all of the activities,” said Lynch. “There was plenty to
do. We stayed the entire two hours, but we could have stayed much longer.”
It is very evident on how much attendees like and appreciate Operation Santa. This
can be seen in the growth of the event. It started in 2014 with only 50 military
service men and women plus family members attending. This year, their fifth, over
1,500 people attended.
Tech. Sgt. Eric Kizina, Production Recruiter and Retainer at the 171st ARW, who
experienced it in 2017, so he made sure to attend again.
“As always, it was awesome!” exclaimed Kizina. “There were plenty of activities for
the kids. They thoroughly enjoyed their time there.”
Due to this word of mouth among military members, this carnival keeps expanding.
“Incredible!ʼ stated Staff Sgt. Aubrey Paslawski, Transmissions Specialist for
Communications Flight at the 171st ARW. “This was my first year. Everyone who
went in the past told me how wonderful it was. Every toy I wrote on the list for my
two year old son was given to him.”
It is not only the gifts and the activities that keep people coming back.
“The staff were super sweet and very helpful,” said Paslawski.
Master Sgt. April Lemon, Senior Budget Analyst for Comptroller Flight at the 171st
ARW, reiterated Paslawskiʼs thoughts.
“I highly recommend this for anyone military member with children,” said Lemon. “I
have four kids and there were many different activities. All of my kids loved it.
They get jazzed about it. My kids said they canʼt wait to go again next year,ʼ