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Thousands of Air Force Academy families in town for Parent's Weekend, boost for local businesses

Posted at 11:03 PM, Sep 01, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Thousands of families are flocking to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for Parent's Weekend.

The annual event takes place on Labor Day weekend. It is a chance for many cadets to show their families what life is like in the military.

“Classes are starting to ramp up. Next week is pretty busy for me. So it’s like a little getaway to see my family," said Cadet Payne Barksdale.

Barksdale's father, Craig, graduated from the Air Force Academy and came back for the special weekend with his son.

“When you come here it’s a huge commitment for everybody. I’m very proud of him no matter what he chooses to do when he graduates. We’re happy for him," said Craig Barksdale.

Families watched a parade by the Air Force Cadet Wing, demonstrations from the Wings of Blue jump team, and flyovers from the gliders and aircraft used to train cadets.

The weekend is the first time many fourth-class cadets, like Joshua Gatete, get to see family after finishing basic training.

“When we dropped him off we didn’t see anything. It was extremely painful," said his mother Marie-Rose Gatete. “We are overjoyed. We are extremely proud of Josh.”

The weekend also brings a boost in sales for local businesses and restaurants. Bourbon Brothers off of North Gate Boulevard and Voyager Parkway in Colorado Springs has been preparing for the influx in families.

"We’re prepping extra this weekend. Extra brisket, extra meatloaf. A little bit of everything," said server Skye Halle. “We get to meet a lot of alumni as well as families coming in. We get to know a lot of the cadets. We look forward to this every year.”

 
The newest class of cadets took their Oath of Office at the end of June. For a schedule of events for the 2023 Parent's Weekend click here.
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