MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- -- As the autumn season approaches, vibrant orange and red trees can be spotted while driving down the streets of Camp Lejeune, signifying the beginning of the upcoming holiday season. With a cool breeze creeping in and sun setting earlier in the evening, a perfect way to enjoy the season is with a celebration to take in the new weather and scenery.
Marine Corps Community Services hosted the fourth annual Harvest Festival at Marston Pavilion, Oct. 19, to welcome the autumn season, and to give Marines, sailors and their families a chance to take part in fun fall activities.
“The festival is a time for Marines, sailors and their families to come out and enjoy the beautiful scenery, nice weather and good food,” said Barbara Dozier, coordinator, MCCS. “We’ve held this event for the last four years and it’s more and more successful each year. This is just another way to show our appreciation to the Marines, sailors and their families. We want to make sure they know how much we value all their hard work and dedication.”
From a petting zoo to pumpkin decorating, children might have had a hard time choosing which event to participate in first.
“Children always seem to love the petting zoo and pony rides. We want to give them a hands-on project to take home, so we have a craft table for the kids to decorate their own minipumpkins,” Dozier said. “There is a dance contest for kids, parents and single Marines. It’s always fun to see everyone dance and have a good time. We also have a candy search hunt for the kids where they have to find small pieces of candy in small bales of hay. It gets a little crazy then.”
For some families, taking part in the fall festivities is an excellent opportunity to take photographs to send to loved ones deployed overseas to keep them updated on what’s going on back home.
“Since my husband is deployed this year, this is a great thing to do to get the kids out and have something fun to do,” said Linda M. Saleh, festival participant. “It’s a chance for me to take some good pictures and send them to him since he’ll be missing the holidays this year. It’s just another way to let him know he’s in our hearts, no matter where we go.”
But for one family, it’s a great way to bond after Lt. Col. Lewis D. Vogler, executive officer, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), II Marine Expeditionary Force, returned home from a deployment with the advance party.
“I just returned from deployment three hours ago and my wife Judith and I thought this might be a great way to get the kids out and have a good time together since I have been gone so long,” Vogler said. “It’s also nice to see the change of scenery from being overseas too. The weather here is perfect and it’s a beautiful day outside. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect homecoming.”
With the festival ending right before sunset, Dozier and her right-hand woman, Barbara Burwell, sponsorship coordinator, MCCS, agreed the event was a success and are already planning next years celebration.
“We have already gotten vendor requests for next year, and the feedback we get after the festival always helps us improve our services the next year,” Dozier said. “Without the support of our sponsors, we wouldn’t have been able to pull this event off. We also want to thank the commanding officers for letting their Marines come out and take part in the festival, too.”
For more information on future MCCS events, call 451-2128, or go to the Camp Lejeune MCCS Web site, www.mccslejeune.com.