March Air Reserve Base held their Military Appreciation Picnic at LeMay Park, here Saturday, September 9, 2017, which was hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee.
Planned annually by the committee, an estimated 5,000 visitors including military and civilian members of the Team March defense community, their families, and invited guests were served by over 300 volunteers from various banks, credit unions, car dealers, restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses and government organizations as a thank you gesture for all that the base contributes to the surrounding communities and for the national defense.
Col. Matthew J. Burger, commander of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, presided over the opening ceremonies before the picnic began. The ceremony began with the swearing in and recognition of community leaders in this year's new Honorary Commanders program, which connects leaders from business, education, non-profit, municipal and professional organizations and allows them a closer look at how units at March ARB play a part in the greater Air Force mission.
“Honorary Commanders become an integral part of the March ARB community and gain an understanding of the role our units have in fulfilling the greater Air Force mission,” Burger said.
“March is approaching its 100-year anniversary, and we are thrilled to kick off the celebration by honoring our distinguished guests.”
Jamil Dada, co-chairman of the council, then took the stage to recognize the elected officials who were in attendance, including U.S. Congressional representative Mark A. Takano, of California's 41st district; Rusty Bailey, Riverside city mayor; Chuck Condor, Riverside city councilmember; Yxstian
Gutierrez, Moreno Valley city mayor; Jeffrey Giba, David Marquez, and Ulises Cabrera, Moreno Valley councilmembers; and Michael Vargas, Perris city mayor. After comments from Takano, who commented on the importance of March ARB, Burger announced the festivities would commence with the official start of the picnic.
Food and beverages were donated by Albertson's and Vons and included burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, beans, chips cookies, water and soda. Also included was a beer truck serving four kinds of beer, popsicles, and a Kona Ice truck serving shaved ice in many flavors.
There were many activities for the picnic-goers to enjoy: face-painting, rock climbing, bounce houses, live music, and a classic car display were there, along with informative stands detailing benefits for service members. The dunk tank, as in years before, was a very popular attraction, where visitors could try to dunk a commander, chief, or first sergeant in the name of charity. The March Field Fire Emergency Services had a truck on display, and the Airman and Family Readiness Center was distributing literature regarding family support for families of deployed members.
This year's picnic was the 45th held at March ARB and is a way for the communities surrounding the base can say 'thanks' to the Team March community.