Dozens of military members celebrate holiday with free tickets to arts and entertainment venues

CINCINNATI - On this Memorial Day, military members and veterans are being honored in a number of ways to thank them for their service to our country.

Some will spend the day at Kings Island, the Beach Waterpark, and the Reds Game thanks to the Armed Forces Tickets Association or AFTA-Cincinnati.

AFTA has made it possible for thousands of military men and women and their families to attend events like the Reds game through donated or discount tickets.

The founder of AFTA says it's a small way to thank them for a big sacrifice.

The Berry Family has been able to celebrate during the times when their father and husband Major Michael Berry is home from the Ohio Army National Guard with trips to see the Reds or even to catch a broadway show.

"I really liked Shrek. Shrek was really fun. I liked being able to go to all these Summer camps," said 11-year-old Angela Famera.

Her father, Major Berry, says it makes him happy to hear his daughters Angela and Kiara talk about their trips to the Cincinnati Opera and The Playhouse in the Park.

"I am gone a lot, so being able to go out when I get home and go to these events is really great family time," said Major Berry of West Chester.

The family says they couldn't necessarily afford to buy four tickets to a Bengals game or Great Wolf Lodge, however the Armed Forces Tickets Association has made it possible for the Berry's and thousands of other military members to get free or discounted tickets.

"It is through AFTA, they have made our lives so much easier. It really helps our budget. When my husband is gone, we are able to tell him all the wonderful things we're doing when he's gone. That makes him happy because he knows his family is not focused on him being away, so we have a life when he's gone. When he comes home we're able to share a lot of these wonderful activities together," said Marja Berry, Major Berry's wife.

The idea behind AFTA-Cincinnati started when the founder, Joyce Elkus, went to an event at Riverbend.

"That Summer I was at Riverbend and saw a lot of empty seats and thought why couldn't these sits be used for our military. The idea generated from that," Elkus said.

This Memorial Day dozens of other military families will get to visit the Zoo, Great Wolf Lodge and other popular venues thanks to the generosity of those businesses.

"In three years, we have given away 25,000 tickets for about $960,000. We've had a great response from the community. We get tickets from sporting events, recreation events, and entertainment events. Just about anybody I have asked is very happy to give us tickets for our military," Elkus said.

If you know an active-military member in Greater Cincinnati that would like to sign-up for some of the free or discounted tickets, visit AFTA-Cincinnati at for additional information.


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