BAYSHORE - Senior Airman Tyler Treadaway of MacDill Air Force Base was happy about the macaroni and cheese.
He said it was his favorite as he dined on it, fried fish, chicken fingers, cupcakes and more at the recent Military Appreciation Reception, given by the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
"But what I really like is hanging out with all my military brothers and sisters," Treadaway said, as he joined more than 80 other military members and about 50 civilians at the May 9 event at Grand Court retirement community.
He said he also came because he knew many military retirees lived at the center, "and I came to appreciate the retirees."
Several, some from World War II, visited with the active duty members who also played games, listened to music and had a cold beer or glass of lemonade.
This was the fifth year for the event, held poolside at the complex.
"We do this to show our appreciation to the military," said Carson Bomar, the chamber's chairman of the board. "Without them, we could not do what we are doing right now."
Local businesses underwrote the food, beverages and entertainment and provided door prizes including restaurant gift cards and baskets of skin care products. The chamber's Military Affairs Committee, chaired by Paddy Moses, organized the event.
Guests included Col. Doug Schwartz and his wife, Ann, and base commander Scott DeThomas and his wife, Marta.
DeThomas, speaking to the guests, said, "We are so blessed and so fortunate any time we get a chance to come out to the community and be with our military friends. In 31 years in the service, I've never lived in a better town.''
Nathalia Watkins, who attended with her husband, Airman First Class Michael Watkins, agreed.
"Tampa is very supportive of the military," she said, as she threw a bean bag in a game of corn hole.