MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Children dressed in suits and ties, ball gowns and tuxedos were seen strutting their stuff on the red carpet like celebrities as they entered the Town and Country Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom, Saturday.
About 150 people, 72 of them children ages 2 - 14, attended the first-time Kids’ Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
In a collaborative effort, Marine Corps Logistics Command and MCLB Albany family readiness officers hosted the event.
“The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for children to experience a Marine Corps Birthday Ball, some for the very first time, with their parents and learn about the history of the Marine Corps,” Salina McBride, FRO, MCLC, said.
Marcus White, FRO, MCLB Albany, said it is very important for the children to relate to such an event because the Marine Corps is a big part of their lives.
“We wanted to put on this event in a way that the children would understand it on their level,” White said. “We wanted them to see and understand the Corps’ traditions and rich history. The Corps is not always about business and we wanted to show them Marines have fun too.”
The night began with the traditional elements associated with an official Marine Corps Birthday Ball to include a color guard, a cake-cutting ceremony, dinner and dancing.
The Albany Young Marines presented the colors and Dougherty County High School Marine Corps Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps cadets escorted the Marine Corps birthday cake.
Sgt. Maj. Joseph M. Davenport, sergeant major, MCLC, was the oldest Marine present, received the second slice of cake at the cake-cutting ceremony. The first piece of cake is traditionally given to the guest of honor.
Louis Mixa, 2, son of Maj. Matthew Mixa, action officer, MCLC, was the youngest child present and received the third slice of cake.
Davenport said he has attended many birthday balls but this was his first Kids’ Marine Corps Birthday Ball ceremony.
“Children are a very important part of the Marine Corps family,” he said. “I enjoyed being a part of the ceremony and I think it’s great we were able to share the Corps’ traditions with them. It was a fun night for all.”
While Davenport spoke about the traditions of the birthday ball, Louis Mixa said he “liked eating the cake the most.”
Cadet Col. Dequille Hurley, guest of honor and acting commanding officer, Marine Corps JROTC, Dougherty County High School, spoke to the children about why he joined the Marine Corps JROTC program. Hurley, a senior, said he plans to be an infantryman in the Marine Corps after he graduates high school.
After the ceremony concluded, children ate dinner, which consisted of chicken fingers with dipping sauce, steamed broccoli, macaroni and cheese and a chocolate chip cookie. The adult menu was the same except they feasted on roasted breast of chicken.
Making sure the children had the full Marine Corps Birthday Ball experience, the dance floor was open, giving them the opportunity to burn off energy they had stored up during the ceremony.
“Let’s get down and boogie,” Louis Mixa said as bubbles and balloons filled the dance floor.
As the night came to an end, some of the children who played and danced the night away, could be seen in the arms of their parents as they carried them home.
Many parents said the night’s event was a success.
The FROs plan to make the Kids’ Marine Corps Birthday Ball an annual event.