By Tonya Garner: Freedom Newspapers
The anticipation surrounding today’s “Operation Kept Cannon” celebration was too much to bear for Linda Jackson.
On Friday afternoon, Jackson was sitting in her car in the parking lot of the Clovis Civic Center, sunglasses pulled slightly down to afford a better view of the preparations.
“I just couldn’t sit home anymore,” Jackson said, “I had to come see the progress.”
The 40-year-old, who plans to attend the event with her military husband and three children, said she almost feels like a child waiting on Christmas morning.
“I probably won’t sleep tonight,” Jackson said.
The military wife said the new mission for Cannon means she and her family have a chance to remain in Clovis, a town they’ve fallen in love with.
“We have been here over five years,” Jackson said. “My kids go to school here, we go to church here and we have really grown accustomed to Clovis.”
Inside the civic center, 900 red chairs, lined in perfect rows, filled the main ballroom. At the front of the room, several more chairs sat atop a stage bearing the names of the dignitaries who will be seated there awaiting their turn to address the attendees.
Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos was busy decorating and directing volunteers.
“Right now it (civic center) looks like a very serious congressional hearing,” Kos said, “but we are going to make it look like a party.”
The large room was filled with easy chatter and laughter as Kos and several volunteers placed small flags on every chair, hung “Operation Kept Cannon” banners, and placed patriotic ribbons and balloons throughout the room. Beside the flags, volunteers also placed square-shaped “Operation Keep Cannon” pins. Kos said the buttons were used previously when Clovis hosted the June 24, 2005, Base Realignment and Closure Committee hearing.
“Now they’re (pins) collectors items,” Kos joked. “People can eBay them.”
The civic center’s courtyard was filled with several Cannon airmen hoisting colorful awnings that will provide shade for volunteers who will distribute hot dogs and sodas. Other volunteers washed windows to a shiny gleam while others hauled in large speakers for the sound system.
Kos said more than 100 volunteers will be on hand to serve as ushers, greeters and food distributors.
Committee of 50 Chairman Terry Moberly said he was not surprised by the number of people who stepped forward to volunteer.
“Everything is going great,” Moberly said. “We have more help than we know what to do with.”
According to Kos, more than 2,000 residents are expected to attend the festivities that will include three live bands and free refreshments. She said attendees will have the chance to win such raffle prizes as cash, gift certificates and a truck donated by Hamilton Automotive Group.
Kos said she hoped attendees would celebrate the event by donning red, white and blue clothing.
“I want everybody to get patriotic,” she said.
“It’s all falling into place,” Kos said. “The focus is celebration.”