Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., left, flips hamburger patties in a cloud of smoke as Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas looks on during Cannon Appreciation Day at Unity Park on Friday. Three Clovis entities hosted the annual event.
Whether it was an assault on pastry during a pie-eating contest, or thousands of hot dogs served or thousands more dollars in prizes, the community found ways Friday to tell Cannon Air Force Base families thanks.
At the 21st annual Cannon Appreciation Day at Unity Park on Friday, the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, Clovis Industrial Development Corporation and Committee of Fifty treated Cannon airmen, their families and civilian employees to a day of free food, door prizes, games and a chance to relax in the park.
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Airman 1st Class Michael Burton said the event was “definitely a morale booster.” It’s important for the whole base to be able to come out and see the show of appreciation, especially on a Friday and after their hard work, he said.
Maj. Marina Johnston said the event was fun.
“It’s a good excuse to get away from the work,” she said.
Cannon Community Center Manager Paul Hopkins, who helps organize the day, said he was pleased with the turn out. He expected 2,500 people to attend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hopkins said the base and the community were one and the same.
“It’s about family,” he said. “When the city, when the community, comes out and says, ‘Hey, we really appreciate what you do,’ it gives people a sense of belonging. We just feel really appreciated for everything that we do for them.”
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Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos, whose father was once stationed at Cannon, said Cannon Appreciation Day had a $10,000 budget, including $4,000 in door prizes.
“It gives us an opportunity to meet people who are stationed at Cannon and let them know much we appreciate their service,” she said.
Chamber President Tom Phelps said putting on the event makes him feel good because he knows the base personnel appreciate it.
Brenda Miller attended representing Southwest Cheese Company LLC, one of the businesses that contributed to Cannon Appreciation Day.
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“It’s very close to my heart,” she said. “My husband is retired military, and this is a group of people who serve so selflessly, and it’s just the right thing to do to support them.”