Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn
2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOIC
There may have been snow on the ground, but a blue sky and mild temperatures provided a wonderful backdrop for 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s Easter egg hunt Saturday at Remington Pond.
The Easter egg hunt is usually the first big event that brings the battalion’s Families together at the beginning of spring. Since winter events do not draw as many out, especially parents with small children, the event provided a good opportunity for Families to get reacquainted and for new friendships to form.
Feleshia Ramsey, wife of Spc. Johnathan Ramsey, an infantryman with C Company, was especially excited to bring her 2-year-old son, Lyric. Although they have been at Fort Drum for two years, Ramsey said she has kept pretty much to herself with her new baby and she thought it was time to get out and meet some people.
“I really enjoyed it. I wanted to come the second I learned about it, because they don’t always have things (to do) especially in winter,” she said. “I am really excited that we were able to bring (Lyric) out and not only did I make a friend, but she has a son who’s near his age and so now if (our husbands) are out in the field or doing whatever, we can hang out.”
Even Michelle Henning, wife of Maj. Andrew Henning, 4-31 Infantry executive officer, who has been to several social events through the years, looked forward to getting outside and enjoying the warm weather with her husband, three children Wolfgang, 11, Killian, 8, and Veda, 6, and everyone in the battalion.
“It provides a relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone is kind of relaxed, and it is the first big thing once the snow starts to melt, or most of it melts, and people can come out after the long winter and start seeing everyone again.”
The North Country is famous for winter extending into April, so festivities took place in and around Hillside Lodge by the still frozen pond. But the sight of ice did not deter anyone from enjoying all of the activities in the sunshine.
A bounce house kept a few children occupied for a few minutes, and the egg hunt lasted until the last egg was found. The Easter bunny fascinated small children long enough for their parents to snap a photo, and the vast array of food filled everyone’s belly, but the big draw was the animals.
Pony rides were a big success. Children of all ages sat upon the ponies, Chuckie and Skipper, with grins on their faces as they were led around the path.
Another unique experience of the day was the exotic animals from Fragile Planet, Wildlife Education and Propagation of Alexandria Bay. Staff members brought animals one does not see on a regular basis. Poison dart frogs, Mad-agascar hissing cockroaches, a giant millipede and a monkey tail skink fascinated the curious.
A few animals provided hands-on interaction. Everyone was able to touch the hard shell of the African leaper turtle and pet the soft silky fur of Moose the rabbit. Mango the macaw delighted those who heard him talk.
Outside under the pavilion, Tyler Thomas, co-founder of Fragile Planet, gave an informational lecture about Granite, a red-tailed hawk, which he helped rehabilitate after it was attacked by a great horned owl, and Magic, an ocelot that is so rare it is on the endangered species list.
The Henning children made sure they took in all of the sights and participated in all of the activities. Wolfgang Henning, a fifth-grader at Carthage Middle School, found the golden egg during the egg hunt and received a special prize. He also enjoyed learning about the rare animals.
“The millipede was my favorite, because I like small things,” he said. “I like how it lives and how it reacts to things. It is calm.”
Killian Henning, a second-grader at Calcium Primary School, will not forget Mango, the bird that repeats what people say. Killian also said the red macaw reminded him of his favorite bird, the cardinal.
All in all, the first event of the warm weather was a huge success.
Sgt. Josef Hiemenz, a mortar squad leader assigned to C Company, who enjoys attending such events, brought his wife Libby and their 20-month-old son Johann.
“I think it was an excellent opportunity,” he said. “I really enjoy the family atmosphere that I get here in 2nd Brigade. I think it is great. It is better than other places I have been in the Army.”