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Events > 2017 Events > Camp Pendleton Holiday

Camp Pendleton Holiday 2017

Elks Serve Holiday Lunch to Marines and Families

Report and Photos by Mike Klinger, Leading Knight

At 0600, in the early morning dawn hours, the Elks arrived at the Mission Viejo Saddleback Valley lodge to prep their holiday lunch for the Marines and their families at Camp Pendleton, just a short 50 miles South down the Pacific coast. Stuffed chicken roast, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, Hawaiian rolls and apple crisp for dessert were packed in ice chests and hot-boxes then transported to the base. When the Elks arrived, were greeted by Family Base Coordinator, Tony Ramirez, and confirmed our schedule of lunch at 1230 and Old Saint Nick will “sleigh-in” at 1330. As soon as the Elks had their buffet line set-up, the smell of warm food and desserts filled the banquet room and the hungry families began to arrive from all different hallways.

The family mix was a delightful site. Marines with their wives or husbands, carrying their young ones in their arms with a few moms and dads having toddlers clinging onto their pants as they tried to balance two or more plates of food. Even grandmothers and grandfathers joined in the fun for the holiday lunch, but most of all to get a family photo with Santa Claus. As the Elks continued to serve over 250 guests, everyone gathered in the banquet room with family to finish their delicious meals, listened to a quartet of holiday performers from Disneyland and jumped into a few fun games on stage to win prizes. Then when Santa Claus walked into the room, the cheers and screams lit up the room. Everyone now had an opportunity to take a photo with Santa, tell him what they wanted for Christmas then grabbed a backpack filled with goodies donated by the Elks.

(above) ER Mike Long serves three hungry Marines
(below) Elks receive Appreciation plaque from Commander, ready by assistant. 

As the afternoon began to wind down, Lt. Col. Gary Thompson took the microphone and addressed the guests as the Elks lined up on the stage. “We are so proud to have this relationship with the Mission Viejo Elks”, Thompson said. “This is the fourth event that the Elks traveled South to our base and serve us a fantastic meal and we truly appreciate it.” Thompson then presented PDDGER Harvey Boelts and ER Mike Long with a beautiful hand-carved plaque, remembrance of the Elks efforts. Both Harvey Boelts and Mike Long spoke from the heart to the crowd and paid tribute to the Marines and their families for everything THEY do to keep us safe. Mike Long finished with, “now we cannot wait for the next phone call from the base to return and serve these wonderful people as they continue serve for us worldwide”. 
(right) PDDGER Harvey Boelts, ER Mike Long and First Lady, Vicky Long accept Appreciation plaque from Lt. Col. Gary Thompson.