Pfc. Michael Udejiofor
3rd Infantry Division
Photo by Jesse Atwood
A young Family member poses for a photo with the Fort Stewart Recycling Program mascot, July 28 at the Marne Palooza event on Fort Stewart. The event celebrated the end of summer and welcomed the beginning of the 2021-22 school year with a host of vendors from both the installation and community.

End of summer event brings Families together

The Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division held an annual end-of-summer bash known as Marne Palooza at both installations this week.

The event took place at the Newman Fitness Center on Fort Stewart July 27 and Tominac Fitness Center on Hunter Army Airfield July 29.

“This is the place you want to be,” said Cara Bates, the special events coordinator for the Fort Stewart MWR. “This is where you’re going to get all the resources that you need.”

Attendees were greeted by booths from the Army Substance Abuse Program, Military Family Life Counselor, the Education Center, United Service Organization, Army Community Service, Department of Human Services, Exceptional Family Members Program, The Directorate of Emergency Services, Retirement Service Office, Transportation of Personal Property and Legal Services. The event was open to Soldiers of all ranks, military Families and Department of Defense ID card holders.

The event was previously known as Care Fair, but the name changed this year to Marne Palooza. The change was made to emphasize that the event offers a host of economic and social benefits while also tying in fun family events, such as a bounce house, food trucks, and activity booth.  

“The name change makes it sound a little bit more intriguing and fun,” said Bates.

In this era of Covid-19, Marne Palooza planners took steps to ensure the safety of attendees, which included wearing masks if not fully vaccinated, and appropriate social distancing. 

“We have everyone spread out so there’s a lot of room for social distancing inside,” said Bates. “We have hand washing stations and we just asked that people practice their normal safety measures; we’re just going to keep continuing those good habits.”

Historically, the event was designed as a way to pass information to those who need it, but this year hosts focused on making it fun for families.

“We placed emphasis on doing really hands-on activity, so even our vendors, and our garrison team are doing some,” said Bates. “It’s more interactive to get the children and the parents engaged and to make more connections with them and the community. I hope they walk away knowing that we are a huge community here.”

MWR worked alongside community partners to make this event happen, resulting in a large turnout. Many attendees left with bags full of educational materials including information packets and contact information for agencies across post.

“This is not just a one time event,” said Bates. “You have all these resources to utilize afterward.”

“This event has been so much fun,” said Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Wise, president of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program on Fort Stewart. “It was amazing to see all the families getting out here, networking, working together and seeing all the services available to them on and off post.”

MWR has more community events planned for the near future. BOSS will host a haunted house October 22-23 at Holbrook Pond. A fall carnival is slated to take place October 22-25 and Oktoberfest will be October 23, both events will take place at Donovan Field on Fort Stewart.  

“I thought the event was outstanding,” said Col. Manny Ramirez, garrison commander for Fort Stewart. “We opened ourselves up to the community and the community came. This is great.”

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