By Mr. Richard L Rzepka (USAG Okinawa)August 16, 2015
As the threat of another typhoon loomed on the Okinawan horizon, U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa personnel were busy setting up and then tearing down the venue for what would be Morale, Welfare and Recreation's most successful event of the season.
Super Typhoon Soudelor, the world's most powerful storm of the year, gave Army event planners pause when the massive tempest threatened to veer north towards Okinawa after devastating Saipan and Taiwan. Luckily, the storm was a near miss and the largest storm gave way to the largest party of the season -- U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa's Caribbean Party at Torii Beach.
Originally billed as a two-day event, the Caribbean Party was shifted right by one day to Aug. 8 and through a mostly calm evening, thousands gathered to take part in the beach bash.
"The security folks estimated that at one point there were well over 7,000 people on the beach, with total attendance at about 9,000," said MWR Director Justin Evers. "This is one of the biggest single night events that we've ever had," he said.
Evers said that although the affair is now on record as hosting the biggest single night's attendance, it still has a way to go to beat Torii Station's island-famous Rocktoberfest, which is slated for Oct. 9-11.
One of the more unique aspects of the event, which featured live music, local food vendors and a fireworks display, was the opportunity to mingle with Japanese locals during the open-post event.
"It's great to get to enjoy the beautiful Torii Beach setting with our Japanese friends and they enjoyed the opportunity as well, judging from the numbers of attendees," said Casey Grimmer, Librarian. "It was a diverse crowd, to say the least, that came together to enjoy a special night in a beautiful setting."
Army Families were also out in droves, with children enjoying the water slide and parents enjoying the festive atmosphere.
"It's always great to be able to go to a Family-friendly event where kids can be kids and parents can relax," said Dereck Spivey, Army Community Service. "Torii Station always puts on a great event and certainly has the best venue for these sorts of events," he said, referring to Torii Beach.
The event was nearly a wash for the community, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the MWR staff, the community was treated to the party of the year.
"Very early Saturday morning the MWR staff came in and in a super-human effort, managed to get everything in place just in time for the event … they worked some seriously long hours through the wind, rain, and blowing sand to make this event happen," said Evers.