News: Extravagownza donates fashion for Marine Corps birthday ball
Story by Cpl. Charles Clark
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Shimmering and shining dresses worn by Marine and spouse volunteers sparkled as approximately 300 women searched through more than 1,000 dresses for the perfect ball gown during the 2013 Extravagownza at the Tarawa Terrace Community Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Saturday.
Extravagownza, which has been in existence for more than 10 years, is an annual ball gown giveaway for the families aboard Camp Lejeune to get quality ball gowns without paying for the expensive price tags that accompany them.
This year’s Extravagownza had a selection of more than 1,000 dresses.
“Stores in the area offer many beautiful gowns for every size, shape and style. What Extravagownza offers is a free-of-cost gown that encourages re-cycling of gowns,” said Gabrielle J. Parish, a recreation specialist with the Tarawa Terrace Community Center.
“Nobody really wants to wear the gown they wore the previous year, but this allows ladies to get a fresh gown that they love without spending a dime. It’s also a great experience for the women of our community to come out and get a little extra pampering. We’re here for them to make their day special, and that’s what brings them back each year.”
Along with showcasing dresses, this year’s Extravagownza featured six demonstrations from spray tanning, photography, updo hairstyling, fitness, women’s makeup and an etiquette class.
Some of the women who attended were new to the area or to the Marine Corps life. The event was an opportunity for them to meet new people and pick up a few tips for getting ready for their first ball.
“This is my first year going to a Marine Corps ball,” said Rebecca A. Ryan, an Extravagownza model and patron. “This is very organized and everyone is so excited about it. I’m having a wonderful time.”
Planning for the event started eight months prior and the community center staff, Semper Fit instructors and volunteers modeled the gowns.
“Some of our volunteers have been to previous Extravagownzas and offered their services as soon as the event was advertised,” said Lorraine M. Fuller, the supervisory recreation specialist of Tarawa Terrace Community Center.
More than 100 gowns were donated from the community while the rest were donated by the Clothing Recycling Company to support the event.
“We even had a patron bring back a dress she found at last year’s Extravagownza,” Fuller said. “The lady said she was lucky enough to find a dress she loved and hoped another woman would be just as happy with the lovely black dress she had in her hands.”
The volunteers for the event moved quickly to assist patrons with their selections.
“I try to volunteer as much as I can,” said Lance Cpl. Kristi M. Champagne, a forecaster with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force and an Extravagownza model. “This was a lot of fun and I loved helping everyone find what they were looking for.”
The day’s events went smoothly thanks to the staff and volunteers of the Extravagownza.
“Our volunteers went above and beyond helping our patrons find the perfect dress that made them feel beautiful,” Fuller said. “It was a great event largely due to their enthusiasm.”