YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Friendship Festival organizers are hoping for favorable weather this weekend when Japanese visitors come through the base gates for the 53rd annual event.

An estimated 138,000 Japanese visitors turned out for the 2002 festival.

“We’re hoping to meet or exceed that,” said Air Force Capt. Tammy Dotson, Friendship Festival project coordinator.

The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Organizers named this year’s festival “Centennial of Flight,” marking 100 years of aviation since the Wright Brothers soared at Killdevil Hills, N.C.

A variety of U.S. military and Japanese aircraft will be on static display including fighters, cargo planes and tankers.

A storyboard detailing the progression of flight from 1903 to 2003 has been put together, Dotson said. And Marine paratroopers are planning an exhibition.

Live entertainment featuring rock ’n’ roll, pop, blues, gospel and Latin will emanate from both an outdoor and indoor stage.

Demonstrations, games, concessions and booths also are being set up in the festival area, which covers roughly a 12-block area along the Yokota flightline.

Male and female bodybuilders also are slated to entertain.

A fireworks finale, slated for 8:30 p.m. Sunday, accentuates weekend festivities.

Visitors will be allowed to enter only through the supply gate, Dotson said. Bike racks are available, and visitors should bring photo identification.

Yokota residents can catch shuttles to the festival every 20 minutes beginning at 8 a.m., Dotson said.

West side riders will be dropped off at Wilkins Field. East side riders will be dropped off at the fuels compound near Hangar 15.

Knives, firearms, glass bottles, luggage or large bags, alcohol, pets and coolers are prohibited, Dotson said. Bags are subject to search.

“We’ve got a good security plan in place,” she said, noting 300 augmentees will enhance the base’s regular security force. “They’ll be used for crowd control, and they’ll be able to respond quickly to emergencies.”

The Friendship Festival was created to strengthen ties between Japan and the United States, base officials said. It’s designed to promote the exchange of friendships, cultures and experiences between the host nation and the U.S. military.

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