BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. -- As the autumn winds blew and the music played, Marines danced and participated in competitions embracing the rich German heritage at the 36th annual Big Bear Oktoberfest Sept. 16.
Around 40 Marines participated in the trip to the Oktoberfest hosted by the Single Marine Program.
Transportation to the event was at a low cost and admission to the event itself was free to active-duty military members.
“It was nice because transportation was only five dollars, and if we would have gone there ourselves we would have paid $60 on gas alone,” said Adam Ulfig, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School student.
The Marines traveled to Big Bear in the morning and stayed until late in the evening. Several Marines danced to the German band, “The Express.” Marines also competed in a log-cutting competition and “bier” stein holding competition.
“It was interesting to see and experience the German culture,” said MCCES student Angela Hearne.
Along with the event, bratwursts, sauerkraut, meat pies and apple strudels were served, and are only a few of the several foods authentic to the German culture.
“It was a motivating trip,” said Pfc. Gabriel Espada, MCCES student. “I had a lot of fun. The food was good.”
SMP hosts several trips to different events for single Marines and sailors which boost morale and allow them to interact.
“It gives these young Marines a chance to discover life outside of the base environment and an opportunity to do something fun and productive,” said Ronald Choquette, headquarters battalion, S-1 noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “It’s important that these Marines get a chance to enjoy themselves and take a break from the daily grind of work.”
“It got us off base. It gave us the chance to get away and enjoy a day in a small mountain town. It was a chance to relax in a nice atmosphere.”
SMP trips offer a wide variety of opportunities for single Marines to experience exciting trips with others they usually wouldn’t see. The Oktoberfest trip turned out to be a success with many Marines who agreed SMP should host a trip to next year’s Oktoberfest.
“A trip to Big Bear would be awesome, I’d definitely suggest it,” said Choquette.
Even Marines who are currently students and will be gone for next year’s event suggested SMP continue hosting trips to the Oktoberfest.
“The trip gave students who are stationed here, and leave after their school, a chance to see a different part of California before they leave,” said Hearne. “I enjoyed the trip and I know that my fellow Marines did to.”