August 4, 2013 Updated: August 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm
For being a highly secretive military installation with relatively few houses, Schriever Air Force Base teemed with children.
Hundreds of kids, accompanied by their airmen and civilian parents, were on hand July 25 for the Summer Slam family picnic, one of the base's annual traditions that, thanks to corporate sponsors, continued this year despite Uncle Sam's belt tightening.
The free event featured a picnic lunch, face painting, bounce houses, live music, a caricature artist and information booths.
As families arrived, 2-year-old Taytum Jalbent munched on a chicken sandwich near the 50th Support Squadron Booster Club's booth.
Her mother, Senior Airman Ashley Jalbent, planned the duo's next move.
Eventually Jalbent would take a shift at the booth, which was selling caramel apples and tropical fruit kabobs the airmen had made at the squadron's offices the day before.
First: a stop at the petting zoo, which featured miniature horses, alpacas, goats, sheep - and a strong stench.
"She saw them and said they stink, but she still wants to go pet them," Jalbent said with a chuckle as Taytum clung to her leg.
At a nearby booth, Reserve Senior Airman Anne-Marie Mandrell sported a pink-and- yellow tie-dyed shirt in hopes of attracting festival attendees to the booth to make a similar one.
For a $10 donation, customers were provided with a white T-shirt, access to squirt bottles filled with rainbow-hued dyes, rubber bands and a little help.
Proceeds would fund the 6th Satellite Operations Squadron's Polar Max Booster Club, which planned to use the money to finance its Christmas party and farewell gifts for departing squad members.
Freshly dyed shirts pinned to the group's tent to dry flapped vigorously in the wind.
As members of the 6th Satellite Operations Squadron, "we're the ones who capture the weather data" using satellites stationed over both poles, Mandrell said.
The morning had her wishing she could change the weather, too.
"I wish it wasn't so windy," she said wistfully.
Over at the petting zoo, an African spurred tortoise munched on lettuce as children riding ponies and petting farm animals squealed nearby.
Their parents took cellphone pictures and filled their hands with generous globs of hand sanitizer when the fun was over.
Three-year-old Maisie Miller, daughter of Capt. Debra Miller, said her family showed up at the festival to "see the animals and because this is a picnic."
Before the family headed for the food tent, the captain asked her daughter what she wanted to eat.
"Not an animal in there," she said, pointing to the petting zoo. "They're stinky."