News: Families celebrate Marine Corps birthday at 12th annual Children’s Birthday Bash
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay - More than 700 Marines, sailors and their families enjoyed a day of music, games, food and more at the 12th annual Children’s Birthday Bash at Dewey Square, Nov. 3.
Hosted by the Lifestyles, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program, the bash also included a cake cutting ceremony similar to the traditional ceremony at a Marine Corps birthday ball.
“(Parents) get to dress up for the ball every year and celebrate the Marine Corps birthday,” said L.I.N.K.S. trainer Amanda Taylor. "L.I.N.K.S. is a program that teaches service members and their
families about Marine Corps (history and) traditions. (We) wanted to hold an event where children could celebrate the birthday and learn the heritage of the Marine Corps, because they are a major part of this military community and need to understand its culture and pride.”
Although the Marine Corps birthday uniform pageant was not scheduled until the following week, a handful of its performers attended the bash in their period uniforms to give children a quick history lesson.
The performers also took time to meet the children and pose for photos.
Harlie Jones, 3, said she liked meeting the Revolutionary War performer.
“He was so silly,” she said.
Jones said her favorite part of the birthday bash was playing tic-tac-toe
with a Navy diver.
Petty Officer Edward Briggs, a Navy diver from Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 1 played tic-tac-toe with children while submerged in a tank of water and wearing diving gear.
Families went from booth to booth with a plethora of activities, from taking a funny picture in costume, to getting their face painted, or enjoying cotton candy.
Monica Dial attended the birthday bash with her family. She commented it was fun to have an event where children have a place to run around and engage in a variety of activities. She said they also have a chance to see various types of equipment used by their active duty parents.
“I love it,” attendee Laura Howie said of the bash. “My kids look forward to it every year. I think it’s a great thing that (Marine Corps Community Services) does. We really appreciate it.”
Howie commented on the appealing design of this year’s T-shirts. As each family registered at the front table, they received specially designed red T-shirts to commemorate the event.
Taylor said their pride was evident in the entries received for the art and buggy contests. Children of various ages submitted drawings representing what the Marine Corps meant to them. For the buggy contest, families adorned their baby strollers with patriotic décor.
“It’s a fun, free event for the kids,” said Sgt. Joel Tilmann, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear chief, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.
Tilmann’s children visited the display provided by the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting division of Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, where they were able to sit in the driver’s seat of a fire truck and try on the Marines’ firefighter suit.
“It’s like walking on the moon,” said Cheyenne Sharpless, as she attempted to move in the bulky suit.
Toward the end of the bash, attendees gathered around Col. Brian P. Annichiarico, MCB Hawaii commanding officer, as he prepared to cut the ceremonial birthday cake.
“(Marines) were born in 1775 in Tun Tavern,” Annichiarico said. “Since that day, we have taken people in from all over the country … we take people in and we mold them into the finest fighting force the history of the world has ever seen.”
Annichiarico thanked all coordinators, units and volunteers for their hard work on the event. He said not only do military spouses have “the hardest job in the Marine Corps,” the children are also affected by having active duty parents.
Though the bash celebrated the Marine Corps birthday, for the commanding officer, it also meant celebrating the families as well.
The commanding officer then cut the ceremonial cake and presented the first pieces to 11-year-old Gavin Abney, representing the oldest child in the ceremony, and Kyler Beals, 3, representing the youngest child.
“This event was a huge success due to the many volunteers, supporting units, sponsors and especially the family members who attended to show their pride in the Marine Corps and share it with their children,” Taylor said.