First ever Hard Park Palmsapalooza takes place during Camp Hansen Open Gate Day
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- The Palms Enlisted Club aboard Camp Hansen hosted Hard Park Palmsapalooza in conjunction with Camp Hansen Friendship Day, August 8.
Friendship Day is an open-gate event allowing Okinawa residents base access and use recreational facilities such as the bowling alley, food court and theater. Camp Hansen hosts open-gate nights once per quarter.
Hard Park Palmsapalooza is a Marine Corps Community Services event where service members, families and Okinawa residents participated spectated a car show and participated in various amusement attractions. This is the first time this event was held.
“We had Marines, (families), (Okinawa residents) and even local car shops participate in the car show,” said Alex Demitras, club manager of The Palms on Camp Hansen. “Some people work on their cars and make sure they’re all put together, but others just want to hang out and look at some cars.”
Okinawa residents were eager to see how service members lived and enjoyed themselves while aboard the camp.
“You get to see what the people on base have,” said Visch Lazzano, a resident of Okinawa City. “It’s nice to interact with them other than just off-base.”
Each year there is an increase in the number of Okinawa residents who attend open-gate night due to the popularity of base functions.
“It started out in small numbers, but now we’re at a thousand,” said James Hammonds, the Camp Guard Officer on Camp Hansen. “Palmsapalooza is just one part of what we’re doing to promote better relationships. It gives us a chance to show Okinawa residents what the Marines and the military is all about.”
Attendees of the event spent the day bonding through common interests while admiring the cars and discussing the different modifications.
“Everyone’s having a good time,” said Cpl. Eric Cassidy, a radio technician with III Marine Expeditionary Force Marine Headquarters Group 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company S-6, Communications. “Car junkies are talking about cars. You can’t get much better than that.”
According to Cassidy, seeing cars of this caliber out in town on the island of Okinawa is rare, and having unique cars aboard the camp makes Okinawa feel more like home.
Aside from fostering healthy relationships between on and off-base communities, MCCS sponsors events such as these to provide a way for base personnel to unwind and decompress after the work week.
“The coolest thing I got to see was a group of young Marines looking at a car saying how much they’ve always wanted to see an (R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R),” said Demitras. “It’s an iconic car they’ve always heard about but never gotten close to. Then they start remembering their past cars and it’s in that moment, when they forget that they’re deployed or forward deployed and just having a really good time, that’s what’s so rewarding. That’s the point behind this entire thing.”