Cadet jamboree bigger, better than ever

Hot air balloons on the the Terrazzo during Cadet Jamboree XIV made for a unique sight with vendors and participants traveling from as far as Albuquerque, N.M., to participate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Hot air balloons on the the Terrazzo during Cadet Jamboree XIV made for a unique sight with vendors and participants traveling from as far as Albuquerque, N.M., to participate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Balloon operators from as far away as Albuquerque, N.M., came to the Air Force Academy to take part in Cadet Jamboree XIV on the Terrazzo area May 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Balloon operators from as far away as Albuquerque, N.M., came to the Air Force Academy to take part in Cadet Jamboree XIV on the Terrazzo area May 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Cadet 4th Class James Beilby from Cadet Squadron 32 overcomes his opponent in a test of strength, speed and balance during Cadet Jamboree XIV at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., May 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Cadet 4th Class James Beilby from Cadet Squadron 32 overcomes his opponent in a test of strength, speed and balance during Cadet Jamboree XIV at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., May 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Cadet 4th Class Bryan Stigall carefully works his way up a rock climbing challenge during Cadet Jamboree XIV at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 20, 2009. Cadet Stigall is assigned to Cadet Squadron 7. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Cadet 4th Class Bryan Stigall carefully works his way up a rock climbing challenge during Cadet Jamboree XIV at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 20, 2009. Cadet Stigall is assigned to Cadet Squadron 7. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Cadets with the Class of 2012 pedal on miniature tricycles May 20, 2009, during Cadet Jamboree XIV at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

Cadets with the Class of 2012 pedal on miniature tricycles May 20, 2009, during Cadet Jamboree XIV at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Carter)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Academy Concerts pulled no punches Wednesday evening by delivering a knock-out 2009 Cadet Jamboree, the biggest in the event's 14-year history, on the Terrazzo May 20.

Some 80 cadets from the cadet entertainment club and members of the cadet wing helped support with load in, game support and clean-up.

A host of entertainment featured four bands including: the cadet band Jelly Jam and the Cosmic Clams; Chris Daniels and the Kings, a fast paced, cover and original band from Denver; Recycled Percussion, and, the evening's headliner, Reel Big Fish. 

"Cadets have been requesting this group for three years," said Cultural Arts and Entertainment Director Candyce Thomas. "It's a great feeling to be able to deliver."

This was the 10th time the ever-growing event was held on the Terrazzo.

"Prior to the 1996 Cadet Jamboree, there was always a small party held for cadets during what was then called 'Dead Week.' It was held in the banquet rooms in Arnold Hall," Ms. Thomas said. "When I first started doing the Cadet Jamboree then, I quickly recognized there was significant potential for future growth. We moved the next couple of Cadet Jamborees outside to the quad near Arnold Hall. Eventually, I asked permission to hold it on the T-ZO with the thought we'd get the attention of the entire cadet wing ... which is exactly how it's played out. The festivities have grown to where it's become impossible to use the word 'dead' to describe the week anymore."

Among the cadets sprawling across the Terrazzo the same comment was overheard repeatedly throughout Wednesday evening. "This is a blast having the balloons here and I can't wait to hear Reel Big Fish," was the common theme from the Class of 2012 members.

The band line-up required using two stages for the first time. Another new twist included having hot air balloons tethered to lift cadet passengers over the Terrazzo and a 'balloon glow' at dusk to end of evening.

"Robert Harrelson, chief executive officer, cadet activities, and his staff are invaluable to this event and went way above and beyond in their support for every request the entertainment office had for them," Ms. Thomas said. "I was exploring a new idea for the Jamboree and found that the commercial route was prohibitive monetarily for what I wanted to do."

Then Ms. Thomas saw an article in the Academy Spirit in October of 2008 relating to what she wanted to accomplish. She contacted Al Lowenstein in New Mexico after reading the article about his son, Cadet 1st Class Ryan Lowenstein, he and his dad are both avid hot-air balloonists.

"Al jumped right on board, contacted a number of people in his club, and the hot-air balloon idea became reality," Ms. Thomas said. "The Lowensteins have helped take the Cadet Jamboree to new heights."

Many others weighed in as well to make the 2009 Cadet Jamboree the best ever.

Scott Butler with Gravity Play was a huge supporter of the event according to Ms. Thomas, supplying all the game activities.

"Kevin Cordtz, a talented artist who supports many Academy Concerts events and who was present at SnoFest 2009, does the logo each year for the Cadet Jamboree poster and brings great peals of laughter as he does cadet caricatures," she said. "Mitchell Hall is always supportive with the evening meal and creating a picnic atmosphere."

Organizers also had a contingency plan for inclement weather.

"We were prepared to move as much of the event into the Arnold Hall Ballroom and patio area as possible if needed," Ms. Thomas said. "Thank goodness, that wasn't needed!"

The 2009 Cadet Jamboree also required logistical support from the Academy's Fire Department, the base safety staff, security forces, and the Arnold Hall Theater staff. "As always, it was a superb team effort," Ms. Thomas said. "In a few short weeks, coordination for the 2010 Jamboree will be underway. It'll be no easy task to top this year's event, but, like every year, that's our goal."