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Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Gehr, of the USS Houston, dunks his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rick Seif, on his third try. The money collected at the dunking booth will go toward the morale fund for the U.S. Coast Guard unit on Guam.

Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Gehr, of the USS Houston, dunks his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rick Seif, on his third try. The money collected at the dunking booth will go toward the morale fund for the U.S. Coast Guard unit on Guam. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Gehr, of the USS Houston, dunks his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rick Seif, on his third try. The money collected at the dunking booth will go toward the morale fund for the U.S. Coast Guard unit on Guam.

Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Gehr, of the USS Houston, dunks his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rick Seif, on his third try. The money collected at the dunking booth will go toward the morale fund for the U.S. Coast Guard unit on Guam. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

Franko Torres, 6, of Dededo, and Richard Rama, 8, of Maite scaled the “Sheer Face” inflatable climbing wall Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Navy’s Freedom Fest on Polaris Point. Thousands turned out to see fireworks and hear the 1980s band Starship.

Franko Torres, 6, of Dededo, and Richard Rama, 8, of Maite scaled the “Sheer Face” inflatable climbing wall Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Navy’s Freedom Fest on Polaris Point. Thousands turned out to see fireworks and hear the 1980s band Starship. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

POLARIS POINT, Guam — Brenda Manibusan watched last year’s Fourth of July fireworks near Airport Road in Guam, and she could see the Navy’s exploding light show from miles away.

“I said to my husband, ‘Next year, we’re going there,’” Manibusan, of Latte Heights, said Tuesday while waiting beneath a covered pavilion at the Navy’s Freedom Fest celebration. “I didn’t even know it was open to everyone.”

The annual Freedom Fest has been open to Guam residents for years, said Tamara Esteves, the community activities coordinator for the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office, which hosted the event. Last year, close to 10,000 people came for the children’s games, food and fireworks show, she said.

“Honestly, they come out for the fireworks,” Esteves said. “It’s a big draw.”

This year, the day was to include a rock concert by Starship, whose hits in the 1980s include “We Built This City” and “Sara.”

Emily Caseres’ family claimed a spot on the lawn near the stage by mid-afternoon, despite the heavy rain showers throughout the early part of the day. Caseres, of Mangilao, said her family has been coming to the Navy’s Fourth of July festival for so many years, she can’t remember how many.

She did, however, remember to bring extra umbrellas.

“They do a good job and I feel safe,” Caseres said. “It’s orderly when you come in and come out. Rain or shine, we come.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Gehr, of the USS Houston, had the same attitude. “What are you going to do? Get muddy and enjoy it best you can,” he said.

Gehr also came to help keep his ship’s executive officer from staying too dry. Gehr was the first sailor off the Houston to dunk Lt. Cmdr. Rick Seif at the U.S. Coast Guard’s dunking booth.


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