MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GA -- Crickets, oranges, panty hose, Marines and chili?
However unlikely that combination may seem, they were on hand Saturday at the annual chili cook-off in Warwick, Ga.
Marines from the Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, Fla., and MCLB Albany supported the event with a static equipment display, color guard and entertainment.
The Marines set up the static display and the local recruiters set up a booth on the perimeter of the cook-off. They also held a game of survivor.
Forming two teams, Marines faced off in various oddball events. When a team lost a competition, one team member was 'voted off'. Participants ranged from young active duty Marines, to slightly older civilians who came for the cook-off and soon found themselves laughing with and at the Marines and their precarious predicaments.
In the first event, participants were given an orange and a pair of panty hose with an orange inside. The panty hose, containing the orange, were tied them around their waist, the orange swinging freely between their legs. Another orange was then placed on the ground. The Warwick survivors had to use the orange in their panty hose to hit the one on the ground through about 10 yards of thick grass. Though the task was tedious at times, spectators found the odd combination amusing.
A cool breeze sporadically blew most of the gnats away, but as annoying as they were, no one blamed the pesky insects for wanting to see what the Marines did next.
The games were broken up, however, by a brief ceremony which honored those who have served and are still serving in the armed forces.
After a Marine played the national anthem on the trumpet, the color guard presented the colors to the crowd.
One elderly man with a baseball cap covered with patriotic pins that read 'Vietnam Veteran' shed several tears as the flags passed, his body locked in the position of attention.
Following the tribute, it was back to the games.
A few more relays with oranges and eggs, pull-up challenges and bursts of hysterical laughter followed. Another event which gave the remaining survivor participants lumps in their throats was coined 'the cricket spit,' which started with a container of live crickets.
The participants may not have enjoyed the cricket spit as much as the spectators did, but everyone was smiling at its conclusion.
"I might not be able to say I won, but at least I can say that I spit a cricket the second farthest in the 'Warwick, Georgia, Chili Cook-Off Cricket Spit," said Staff Sgt. William Price, the marketing and public affairs director, Jacksonville, Fla., who spearheaded the event. Overall, the Marines seemed to have a good time.
Booths and motor homes with patrons grilling and cooking various foods were scattered over 200 yards. Vendors sold a variety of foods including barbecue, funnel cakes and beverages.
Several vendors also sold woodwork, ceramics, quilts and many other handcrafted items.
For some of the local patrons, as wild and wacky as the day's events became, being able to meet the Marines, who may be called to protect the freedom they enjoyed at the cook-off, was a great honor.