By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 12, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 12, 2013) -- The sixth biannual Girls Night Out Sept. 6 at The Landing's ballroom held up its reputation by not disappointing the 275 attendees.
Girls Night Out is a ladies-only event that provides local women a taste of what the Wiregrass has to offer in terms of shopping, food, health and spas in a vibrant atmosphere, and patrons are not the only ones coming back each time for more.
"Girls Night Out is a great way to be seen. There is such a vibrant energy at this event," said Courtney Meinders, owner and manager of Freedom Birds Jewelry, who has been a vendor at Girls Night Out three consecutive times. "It is such good business and good advertising. The women who come are great."
The night offered dozens of prizes, picture opportunities, a fashion show, complimentary massages and drinks, and more than enough fun, according to Leigh Ann Dukes, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsorship and advertising sales manager, and venders and patrons agreed.
"I would come if I wasn't selling, that is for sure," said Meinders. "Everyone seems to be having so much fun."
Patrons were able to purchase jewelry, bags, cosmetics, hair products, lingerie, candles and accessories from several booths, a relatively new idea that patrons and business owners continue to appreciate.
"It means a lot to us (vendors) that Fort Rucker cares about us and wants people to see what we have to offer. It is very gracious of them. They are really showing that they want to integrate themselves into the community," said Meinders.
Some vendors that were in attendance include: Mary Kay, Southeast Alabama Medical Center- Women's Medical Center, Scentsy, 2 Girls and a Spa, Massage Envy, Dandy Lion Boutique, USAA, Mercadees-Benz of Dothan, Perfectly Posh, Pure Imagination and other small, home-town booths.
Jennifer's Nail Care provided free manicures on site and Massage Envy pampered women with free back, neck and shoulder massages.
"Feeling special is universal. We all want to be pampered," said Angel Mangum, wife of Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general. "It is a time for us to relax, maybe have an adult beverage, have a look around and spend some time with our friends."
Mangum said that the event is "really" unique because nothing like it is held off post.
"And in a small town like this, that is important," she said. "It is all about support, it is about giving back."
The Southeast Alabama Medical Center made the night possible, according to Dukes. Around 100 makeup bags were given away to patrons just for attending, and vendors also provided door prizes, which included designer bags, health screenings, makeup tutorials and gift certificates.
Many spouses were surprised by the large variety of business that attended, with several buying clothes and jewelry from shops they had never heard of.
"I have learned about several local places that I would have never found otherwise," said Mandy Zimmer, Army spouse. "I like being exposed to all the little gift shops and boutiques. It's great to just have a girl's night."
Dukes said that getting together without the opposite sex is always a recipe for success.
"It is just a great way for them to shed the stress of the week and get the weekend kicked off right. They can do some shopping, have some (refreshments) and do a little socializing in a secure atmosphere," she said.
Women who attended said it was wonderful to take a night for themselves and get away from the busy hustle and bustle of their daily schedules.
"I had heard how fun the last one was and when I found out that my friends were coming, I knew I wanted to try it out, too," said Zimmer. "It is really special that so many aspects of post have come together to host this for us. It's good to know that all these womens' contributions are not being taken for granted."
Though Girls Night Out has proven to be a successful program here at Fort Rucker, the event will continue to evolve and improve, said Brian Jackson, DFMWR program manager.
"This event averages around 300 patrons per event, two times a year, for the last three years," he said. "That shows how much vendors and patrons really benefit from this event. We are making it a more enjoyable atmosphere each time, and we expect it to be bigger and better for March of 2014."