When the more than 3,000 people from the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Servicemembers from various allied nations gather at McChord Field July 24-29 for the 2011 edition of Air Mobility Rodeo, the local community will be right there to welcome them.

Local chambers of commerce are in the midst of putting the final touches on different welcome events to celebrate and cheer on the home teams, and make the foreign Rodeo teams feel welcome.

While the barbecues and mixers are private events not open to the public, many local business leaders get the opportunity to feel like they are a part of the mobility contest while showing a collective excitement for the event.

"It's just another way for us to show our support," said Carlene Joseph, vice president of community development for Harborstone Credit Union who's also an honorary command chief for both the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings. "We want Rodeo to keep coming back to McChord. It gives the local economy a real shot in the arm."

The festivities kick off July 22, as the Lacey Chamber is hosting a celebration at Heritage Hill for the McChord Field active-duty and Reserve home teams. The event is the chamber's first foray into sponsoring Rodeo events.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber is hosting a reception at the Foss Waterway Seaport on July 22 for the McChord home teams as well.

And the Lakewood Chamber is hosting a welcome party July 23 for the home team as well as international teams at the LeMay's Marymount ranch house in Spanaway.

For chamber members and those who are ardent supporters of military events and activities at McChord Field, the barbecues present an opportunity to visit with past McChord wing commanders and even welcome back members from foreign Rodeo teams that have competed in the past.

"We really get to wrap our arms around the competitors," Joseph said. "The whole idea behind the LeMay event is to give the international team members a real taste of the area. They always get a kick out of all the classic cars at the site. It's quite a draw."

The Pierce Military Business Alliance will also host a commanders' picnic on the base during the Rodeo.

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