Marine base celebrates nation's independence

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

MCLB-ALBANY, Ga. -- An area military installation promised a celebration of the nation's birthday like no other. And it delivered.

Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany hosted its 16th annual Independence Day celebration Friday.

The event ran from 4 p.m.-10 p.m. aboard the base. Festivities included two military working dog demonstrations, static military vehicle displays, performances by the Albany Marine Band and a special appearance by this year's Miss Georgia, Christina McCauley.

"So far, it's been interesting," said Sgt. Jessica Hall, a member of the Albany Marine Band, about 90 minutes into the celebration. "The weather's been great so far. Everyone seems to be having fun.

"Over 200 years ago, we fought for our freedom. It gives me a sense of pride that I'm following in their (ancestors') footsteps."

Food and beverages were also on hand, as were children's rides. There were a total of 15 vendors selling products such as funnel cakes, pizza, ice cream, ribs, catfish and cotton candy.

April Green, whose husband is attached to the base, was working at one the vendor booths Friday. This is her first year attending the event.

"This day means more to me than it has before," she said. "It (being a military spouse) gives you a new sense of respect, and it helps you understand the cause."

The children's entertainment included Whoee The Clown, a rock climbing wall, a spacewalk, bouncy castles and playground areas.

Edie Stratis, who works with Marine Corps Community Services Marketing and Special Events, was responsible for contracting vendors, rides and the fireworks as well as coordinating field set-up for the event. She has had a role in planning the celebration for 10 years.

"Every year it has gotten bigger," she said. "The response has gotten better the past couple of years.

"We want (the public) to come out and see what we can do for them. (The celebration) is about freedom and giving respect to (military personnel) on the base and in Afghanistan as well as Iraq."

The Marine Corps League, American Legion Posts 30 and 512, the 6th District Marine recruiters and Veterans of Foreign Wars were also represented at the celebration.

Charles Lucas of Sylvester brought his family to the event Friday for the second year in a row, and has enjoyed the experience on both occasions.

"I like military bases, and this is the closest one -- plus it's the safest place to bring your kids," he said. "And the kids enjoy the fireworks."

The fireworks display, which kicked-off at 9 p.m., was the evening's finale.

Last year, more than 11,000 people attended. Roughly two hours into the event Friday, officials with the base said they were on track to having a similar turnout for this year's festivities.

A notice was released to the media Thursday evening saying that David Poythress, a Democratic candidate for governor, was expected to make an appearance at the event.