MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The sun rests low in the sky as families gather at Del Valle Field. Across the field, miniature princesses, monsters, and superheroes gather for the festivities. Marine Corps Community Services held their annual Family Fall Festival, Oct. 24, 2014.
“As MCCS, our main goal is to provide the best for our Marines, sailors and their families,” said Ranna Contreras, special events manager. “We think it’s really important to provide them with events and programs that will support them and really get them active in the community.”
MCCS’ special events section took over the Family Fall Festival approximately four years ago and is the biggest event they host. On average, anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people attend each year. MCCS also receives donations from outside sponsors. This year the sponsors were United Services Automobile Association, American Friends of our Armed Forces and the National Hockey Leagues’ L.A. Kings.
“It brings the community together,” Contreras said. “We live in a really small town, so there are not many options out here during the fall. It’s a great opportunity for kids to really enjoy a fall festival.”
The festival included free events and activities that families could participate in with tickets that could be purchased at designated MCCS tables. The activities at the event included a petting zoo, a hay ride, face painting, pony rides, crafts and a Jupiter Jump, which is a harness with bungee cords attached to two poles that allows participants to jump really high.
“It’s a great opportunity for all ages, we really try to provide a variety,” Contreras said. “We always try to gear it toward everybody.”
The festival began at 5:00 p.m. and was open to all ages. Not only did families receive a chance to bond with one another, but it also gave Combat Center Marines the opportunity to volunteer at several stations throughout the festival.
“I love working at this base,” said Lance Cpl. Niccolo Bonomo, recreation attendant, Single Marine Program. “The parents sacrifice so much for the Marine Corps. Some kids here might have parents that are deployed and it’s just nice to give them something to take their mind off of it.”
The Combat Center experiences the desert heat and atmosphere year-around. It’s easy to forget the changing of seasons in Twentynine Palms but celebrations, like the Family Fall Festival, reminds patrons of the joy that comes from the fall season.