Cannon Air Force Base going wild

Darrell Maurina

When the sun sets on the evening of Oct. 31, many Clovis parents will be helping their children get into costumes and walk the streets to collect candy and treats.
The next night, a group of military spouses is hoping many of those same adults will put on their own — Wild West — costumes and come out to The Landing at Cannon Air Force Base for a night of entertainment for a purpose. They hope to raise $15,000 to fund scholarships for military children and military spouses.
This will be the second year the Cannon Officers’ Spouses Club has sponsored a Wild Wild West Night. With the help of a number of area businesses that provide props and gifts, the Landing will be transformed into a saloon from the Old West from 5 to 11 p.m. Western costumes aren’t required but are encouraged.
Five dollars will buy admission to the event and $200 in “funny money” to be used for mock gambling at the saloon’s poker, craps, blackjack and bingo tables — nothing for real cash, though the player with the highest amount of “funny money” at the end of the night will be recognized. Those who want to pay more money can hire a “sheriff’s deputy” to put anyone they want in jail. They also can pay to make people sing on the karaoke stage or to get bad singers off the stage.
“We are estimating we had 350 people last year and we are hoping for 500 this year,” said Andrea Pixley, publicity chairwoman for the event. “One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to scholarships, and because many of the scholarships will be used at local schools, much of that money will stay in the community.”
Event chairwoman Paula Davis said she hopes many civilians from outside Cannon come to the Wild Wild West Night.
“The community has done so much to help us; this is a way to show our appreciation for their support,” Davis said.
In addition to humorous events such as karaoke singing contests, Davis said the evening will feature some homegrown amateur talent and provide an opportunity for civilians to mingle with the military community. Civilians without regular access to the base will be required to use the main gate rather than the Portales gate or other access points.
Lt. Jennifer Geeslin said visitors can be assured their money will go to a good cause. As a judge last year, Geeslin helped the club decide how to impartially allocate $6,000 to three high school recipients on their way to college and $9,000 to seven spouses of service members.
“There were a lot of applicants last year, and it took hours and hours,” Geeslin said. “As judges, we didn’t know their ages, names, or active duty members. Some people had just finished high school and wanted to go to college and some were wanting to get their masters degrees.”
Not just officers’ families but also enlisted and civilian families are welcome to come to the event and to apply for scholarships, Davis said.
“This is not scholarships just for officers’ children and their wives. This is only organized by us as officers’ spouses, but it’s to benefit the entire military community,” she said.