By Mr. Eric Kowal (RDECOM)July 22, 2008
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Picatinny Arsenal community members observed Multicultural and Employee Day by hosting a special celebration for Picatinny employees and their family members here July 10.
Kicking off the day was the annual 5-kilometer walk-or-run event around the arsenal with Michael Galonski coming in first place with a time of 17:30 in the men's division and Teresa Jackobe placing first in the women's with a time of 21:17.
Picatinny Commanding General Brig. Gen. William N. Phillips and Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center Deputy Director Col. Russell J. Hrdy both provided opening remarks to an enormous crowd under the big top.
Hrdy reminded everyone that many other countries do not have the luxuries the citizens of the United States have and said, "This isn't a perfect country, but it's better than any other I've seen. Multiculturalism makes us a better country, and it makes us a better Picatinny Arsenal."
After the welcome, the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble began the party, and they were followed by Davis Academy of Irish Dance, Redhawk Native American Dance Troupe and the Four Old Parts Barbershop Quartet.
Vendors served everything from Greek and Latin to American and Polish fare and offered ice-cold beverages to wash it all down, causing mouths to water from the wide variety of food and refreshments at concession stands throughout the day.
Throughout the day community members played several basketball, horseshoe and volleyball games, while volunteers stepped up to test their luck while seated in the dunk tank. Mary Manser, director of the Financial Management Office, was one of those brave individuals.
Manser, whose office organized this year's event, said that when she was told the dunk tank would be at the event, she volunteered to recruit dunkees. "I targeted Picatinny and ARDEC leadership in an attempt to show employees that leaders are vulnerable and do have a sense of humor."
Kevin Fernley, Chugach computer specialist, wound up his arm and eventually dunked and thanked Manser as he referred to her as "a real splash."
Fernley was not the only one full of thanks as Manser said she thanked the Picatinny Arsenal Fire Department for filling the tank with warm water.
Additionally the Picatinny Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation branch sponsored a free raffle, which allowed entrants the chance to win prizes such as hats, shirts and even gift cards to various businesses.
Then, as so often happens at today's military events, as the day dwindled, one last song was heard over the loud speaker as Picatinny employees headed for home: Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," also known as "I'm Proud to be an American."