FASTEUR Marines Eggstravaganza

In the United States, Easter is an exciting time for children. They get to fill their tummies with sugar, play with friends, and enjoy a break from the monotony of school. As Easter day approaches, excitement builds in the hearts of children who count the days until the Easter Bunny delivers his chocolate treats. The stores started to stock their shelves with Easter-themed candy, and “Happy Easter” signs littered the storefronts. On the morning of Easter, kids are woken up by their loved ones and get into their Sunday best. The smell of delicious food prepared with love and attentiveness fills the air as the kids wait for an opening to sneak a bite but with little success. After dinner, plastic eggs filled with sugary goodness, and sometimes even money, are carefully hidden in a field, then all the children are lined up at the starting line. Hardly able to contain themselves, the children wait for the magic word to release the invisible barrier between them and their sugar rush. The moment “Go!” is shouted, the stampeding children rush to uncover as many eggs as possible.

USO Rota hosted an Easter egg hunt to bring that same feeling of childhood euphoria and excitement to the FASTUER Marines stationed at Naval Base Rota. Initially, when the USO arrived at the compound, the Marines were all tucked away in their rooms. USO Rota’s Center Operation Manager, Kayla Clark, positioned a speaker in front of the barracks and turned the volume up as loud as it would go. She connected a microphone and then, with a thunderous boom, announced the USO’s presence. “Good afternoon FASTEUR Marines!” she yelled. “The USO is here, and we came to party!” A group of adventitious Marines gathered around her in just a few moments. Kayla kept hyping up the crowd with music and engagement, then out from behind the USO’s van stepped the surprise guest- the Easter Bunny! Mumbles and laughter came from the group as they greeted him and asked for pictures to send to their mothers.   

The USO kicked off the party with a game of limbo. One by one, the Marines passed under a bar held by the Easter Bunny and a volunteer. After a few iterations, the bar was about three feet off the ground, and only a small group of Service Members were still battling it out. One by one, they fell to the ground until a single individual was left standing. But he still had to prove he was the champion. The Easter Bunny and USO volunteer lowered the pole to a problematic and back-bending two feet. As he approached the bar, he paused to take a deep breath. The audience held their breath in anticipation for their teammate as he adjusted himself into position. In three calculated steps, he could keep his balance and win. The crowd roared with excitement as the winner held up his prize of a MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load carrying Equipment) pouch and a tumbler cup.

Kayla then led the Marines to an open field where the main event would occur. Kayla explained that three golden tickets and two red tickets were among the eggs hidden in the area. If a participant discovered a golden ticket, they could pick between three prizes. Likewise, if a Marine found a red ticket, that person could steal a prize from one of the golden ticket winners. Then the Marines lined up at the start line and anxiously waited for the signal to go. The Easter Bunny stood in the middle of the field and held up his arms. “Ok, on go. Get ready, get set…” Kayla said excitedly, addressing the crowd. “GO!” She yelled as the Easter Bunny through his arms down to signal the start.

The crowd broke out into chaos. Service Members sprinted to the nearest eggs, tackling, and wrestling each other, hoping to get a Golden Ticket. Some shoved the plastic eggs into their pockets to carry more; others emptied the eggs and kept the candy to free up some room. “Three-minute warning!” Kayla announced as participants scurried to find the last remaining eggs. “Ah-ha!” yelled one Marine as he held up a Golden Ticket, finding it right before the time limit expired.

After the time limit expired, the participants who found the Golden Tickets claimed their prizes. The first prize was a red kickball, a metal tumbler cup, and assorted snacks. The second prize winner received a wiffleball bat and ball, in addition to the tumbler and various snacks, and the third winner was awarded the metal drink tumbler and assorted snacks. Next, the two people that found the red steal tickets decided what they wanted to do. In a display of good sportsmanship, they chose the extra metal drink tumblers the USO had brought instead of stealing any prizes from their teammates.

Once the Marines finished celebrating their win and exchanging candy, they rushed to the deliciously displayed ice cream buffet. They got scoops of cookies n crème, chocolate, or vanilla ice cream and were able to use various toppings to build delicious sundaes. One Marine created the ultimate chocolaty sundae with chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, chocolate sprinkles, brownies, and peanuts. Another Marine made a simple sundae with vanilla ice cream, bananas, hot fudge, and peanuts.

As the party started to wind down, everybody listened to the music, traded stories, and enjoyed their sundaes. Some of the Marines showed off dance moves, some took last-minute pictures with the Easter Bunny, and others played with the prizes they won.

Once the USO team was packing up, a few Marines approached and expressed their heartfelt appreciation. The memories of home and childhood excitement created a sparkle of gratitude in their eyes and were enough evidence that the mission was a success. The USO will always be ready to connect service members to their families, home, and country, no matter the time or location.

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