NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
On Aug. 16, under a cloudless sky with temperatures creeping toward the 90s, employees and family members of the Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania installation enjoyed recreation and samplings of food from more than a dozen different cultural food vendors, at the 3rd Annual DLA Distribution Organizational Day & Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation SummerFest.
The celebration began early with a special VIP Kids Day registration, where employees were encouraged to bring their children to work with them and visit their workplaces. The children were provided materials to create their own name badges and were then greeted by U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John S. Laskodi, Commanding General of DLA Distribution. Laskodi joked with the assembled group but also emphasized how important their collective parents’ contributions are to the overall DLA mission. He then invited them onto the DLA Headquarters Auditorium stage for a group photo before they departed on a tour of the Eastern Distribution Center.
As preparations continued for the formal 11 a.m. start of the annual outdoor event, several local and regional state representatives and legislators, as well as local media members, including State Representative Dawn Keefer (PA-92nd); Karen Ludwig and Brian Craig, representing U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15th); Larissa Bailey, representing U.S. Senator Pat Toomey; U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Frank Sullivan (Ret.), executive director of the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission; Matt Franchak and Zach Gates, representing Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack; and Zach Hoopes from the Carlisle Sentinel Newspaper, were invited into the DLA Headquarters building and provided a briefing on the current state of the DDSP mission and the processes and procedures that go into DDSP supporting its customers worldwide.
When asked by the legislators how the DLA Distribution Team is able to respond to DoD requirements, Laskodi replied that, “On a day-to-day basis, we have the ability to upscale as needed. We maintain the skillsets of our business so that we can surge when needed.”
“The facilities on the installation are very impressive. It really is a hidden gem,” commented Sullivan following the briefing. “The community doesn’t know what you do here. It’s remarkable to see how you support the mission of the Department of Defense.”
The group then departed for the Upper Depot Fest Area and formal opening ceremony and start of the celebration. Following the presentation of the colors and the national anthem, Laskodi took time to speak directly to the assembled employees and family members – thanking them for their service and sacrifice and reinforcing the theme that family support is an integral part of continued DDSP success. “We simply could not do what we do without you,” he added.
Like a well-choreographed act, within seconds of Laskodi concluding his remarks and triggering the air horn, officially starting the celebration, the band began playing for the crowd and many attendees began making their way toward the various food and drink vendors.
The assembled group of legislators and media took this opportunity to depart for a tour of the EDC, led by U.S. Army Col. Brad J. Eungard, commander of DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, before returning to the celebration.
Additionally, the event featured dozens of information booths, from an assortment of local and regional vendors; a 20-minute martial arts demonstration; and free bowling and swimming at the respective facilities, located minutes from the event site.
Also featured were activities for families and children together: including an opportunity to visit with pet two llamas; a bunny hop – featuring several rabbits who navigated an obstacle course; face painting; and a dunk tank, featuring VIP dunking opportunities with the DDSP leadership team.
Other popular activities included several bounce houses for the children to play in, prize drawings, and an assortment of continuous music from Paul Smith, a DDSP employee and civilian disk jockey, who augmented and collaborated with the band for the duration of the event.
Static displays of organizational equipment were also seen in several areas around the festival. The DLA Distribution Expeditionary Team, which now enjoys the status afforded to a full Distribution Center, took advantage of the SummerFest crowd by setting up several pieces of their expeditionary equipment. This afforded them an opportunity to educate and inform the eventgoers on their unique mission of quickly providing rapid, forward support, anywhere in the world on short notice.
In another fitting example of saying “thank you” to all DDSP employees and their families for their continued dedication and commitment to the overall DoD mission, the celebration concluded with two large prize drawings, including an Xbox gaming system and a $500 gift certificate, sponsored by MWR New Cumberland.
While the third anniversary of SummerFest ended on a high note, the concept of honoring employees and their families for their sacrifices year-round continues to grow in popularity and has organizers already looking for new opportunities to enhance and improve the event for next year.