Okinawa bases promise a howling good time for kids
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — While ghouls and goblins will patrol streets of the island’s many military housing areas Oct. 31, so too will military policeman to ensure the little monsters have a good and safe time.
“Operation Trick-or-Treat” is what the Marine Corps Provost Marshal’s Office has dubbed its annual safety campaign during one of their busiest days of the year, according to 1st Lt. Timothy Martin, officer in charge of PMO’s Crime Prevention Unit. More than 15,000 trick-or-treaters — SOFA status family members and off-base children alike — are expected to hit the streets for sweets on Marine camps throughout the island. Times for the event this year are 6 to 7 p.m. for SOFA personnel only, and Japanese local nationals can join the candy-gathering with them from 7 to 8 p.m.
While a sign-in process for Okinawa community residents bogged down the gates last year, Martin said there would be an “open gate policy” from 7 to 8 p.m. The gates will be open to all Japanese parents and their children ages 12 and younger, and only children wearing costumes will be allowed on base, Martin said.
No Japanese-plated vehicles will be allowed on base during that time, he added, unless they are signed in and sponsored by a SOFA member. The only exception is Camp Kinser, which will provide on-base parking.
The open gate policy is in effect only for the housing areas on Camps Lester, Kinser and McTureous, and the Kishaba Terrace and Futenma housing areas on Camp Foster, Martin said. The Foster/Kishaba towers, Plaza and Sada housing areas are off-limits to non-SOFA people.
Trick-or-treating on Kadena Air Base also will be allowed from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31, according to a base spokeswoman. Off- base guests will be permitted, but those sponsoring must submit a guest list to 18th Security Forces Squadron at the Gate 1 visitor center by Oct. 27. The spokeswoman said a letter from 18th SFS will serve as a pass and must be carried by the sponsor, and only off-base guests listed on the letter will be allowed on base.
Sponsored groups may enter Kadena between 5:30 and 7:15 p.m., and must be escorted by the sponsor the entire time, the spokeswoman said. Guests are being asked to leave the base via Gate 5, and all visitors must be off the installation by 8:45 p.m.
Just like the Marine MPs, the Kadena spokeswoman said 18th SFS would be out in force to ensure the safety of all. In addition, the spokeswoman said the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron is providing free X-raying of candy from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at building 3409, the AMC terminal on the base.
Martin said MPs on Marine camps will be in uniform and plain clothes, walking, driving, and even riding bicycles. McGruff the Crime Dog and the crash-test dummies Vince and Larry also will make appearances, he said.
“We’re trying to keep it safe and controlled,” he said. “Safety is our No. 1 goal … we want to make sure everyone has a good time.”