KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — For the first time in four years, the Air Force is getting ready to open Kadena’s gates to the surrounding community.

AmericaFest will be held July 4 and 5, with the first day for the U.S. military and the second open to the public.

Long a July 4 staple among the festivals held on Okinawa military bases, AmericaFest returns this year with a bang, officials say, with highlights to include static aircraft displays, a performance by rockers Eve 6, a special "kiddie land," local vendors and a fireworks display both nights.

"This is an opportunity for the base to open its doors to our friends in the local community and give them an up-close view of our mission, our aircraft and our airmen," said Col. Michael Hass, AmericaFest director.

"We also want to take this opportunity to put on a special event for all the men and women and their families who make the mission happen here every day."

The July 4th event was suspended for security reasons after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and the high deployments of people to Iraq and Afghanistan, said Beth Gosselin, Media Director for the 18th Wing.

The base did hold a similar festival in September 2004, but a scheduled appearance of the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s premiere aerial demonstration team, was cancelled in the wake of the crash of a Marine helicopter in Ginowan that August.

The festival site opens at 11 a.m. both days, with the inbound lane closing each night at 8 p.m., according to an 18th Wing press release.

Non-DOD personnel driving from off-base will be escorted onto the base through the "contractor gate" from Route 74 and through Gate 4 from Route 58 onto the flight line.

A free shuttle bus service will run from Chibana Golf Course, starting at noon each day and running every 20 minutes

On both days, DOD civilian and military ID card holders may access Kadena Air Base through Gates 1, 2, 3 or 4, according to the press release.

"All bags carried onto the installation will be subject to search," the release stated.

"Visitors are asked not to carry large purses, backpacks, any knives or weapons, scissors or sharp objects."

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now