MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
With his thick Carolina accent, a burly man dressed in overalls tipped his straw hat and made the announcement, “Alright kids, if you want to get a pumpkin, you’re going to have to get on the hay ride.”
A group of children took off running and piled into a trailer full of hay with their parents following behind. The farmer hopped on his tractor and turned the ignition. A thick billow of black smoke wafted out the exhaust pipe while the children clapped with joy.
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, took their families to Mike’s Farm in Jacksonville, Sept. 30. The group enjoyed pumpkin picking, barbeque, marshmallow roasting, games and a petting zoo.
“This is one of the best ways to build camaraderie among the families,” said Mark E. Seymon, family readiness officer, 3/8. “It really gives the Marines a chance to get outside the daily grind and just relax a little.”
The evening officially kicked off when Seymon introduced three different door prizes—a Nintendo-Wii, a $50 gift certificate and an I-Pod touch. The staff had hidden numerous rubber ducks around the grounds and children had to find the ones with three specific numbers on them. Once the kids found the prize winning ducks, the awards were handed out and the evening carried on.
“I really like coming out to Mike’s Farm because it’s not your typical family day event,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan P. McCallum, infantry staff non-commissioned-officer, Weapons Company, 3/8. “It gives the junior Marines a chance to bring their families out and get to know each other. I like it because it’s not your usual inflatable bouncy house at the sports field on Lejeune.”
When asked what his kids liked the most about the event, his wife began waving him over toward the hayride. At the same time his children rushed their father and began tugging on his jeans.
“Daddy can we go pick pumpkins on the hayride?” McCallum laughed and picked up his kids.
“Well I’m pretty sure they’re going to love the hayride,” said McCallum. “It’s a good chance for everybody to get to know each other, I like coming out here.”
A fall time breeze brushed autumn colored leaves to the ground. The sun began to set and families cozied up to the fire pits.
“This kicks off the fall season and brings everyone together,” said Seymon. “The battalion recently came off a deployment, and just like every other infantry battalion, they’re slated to go on another rotation. This allows the families to come together and build that bond they’re going to need when the Marines are away.”