GULF OF ADEN (Dec. 10, 2014) – As Christmas melodies echoed throughout the hangar bay of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), smiles on Sailors faces brought light to the dimly blue lit space as they participated in the command’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) hosted “Reindeer Games,” Dec. 10.
Makin Island Fun Boss Kristen Venoy coordinated the team event which included six games: The Santa Sleigh Relay, Wreath Hoops, Pin the Parts on Frosty, a Milk and Christmas Cookie Eating Contest, Reindeer Scramble, and Christmas Carol Frenzy.
“I wanted to host as many Christmas themed events as possible to help keep our Sailors minds off of being away from home during the holidays,” said Venoy.
Sailors divided into three teams of four and decided on team names: “Rudolf & Pals,” “Team Mistletoe,” and the “Islander Misfits.” Venoy read off the rules and prepared everyone for the start of the competition.
“The more the merrier,” said Venoy. “We’ve got our teams and we’re ready to kick off Christmas with tonight’s event.”
Pin the Parts on Frosty was first. Sailors lined up to be blindfolded, spun around three times, and guided toward the rare sighting of a snowman in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. With only the guidance of their teammate’s voices, they had to guess where to pin Frosty the Snowman’s hat, eyes, nose, mouth, scarf, and buttons.
“It’s a morale booster, especially after a hard day’s work,” said Seaman Daniella Torrence, a Sailor from Chesapeake, Virginia, assigned to Makin Island’s deck department.
Santa Claus won’t be thrilled this year about the shortage of Christmas cookies aboard Makin Island after the second event where a representative from each team devoured oatmeal raisin cookies and gulped down a cup of milk competing for best time.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Joe Schweiner, a Makin Island Sailor from Green Bay, Wisconsin. “It’s nice to get out of the office and play a few games while deployed during the holidays.”
The holiday cheer continued throughout the games and at the conclusion of the event Venoy announced the winners. First place was earned by “Team Mistletoe.” Second place was awarded to “Rudolf & Pals,” and third place went to the “Islander Misfits.”
Regardless of who placed where, Sailors said they had a great time with this year’s “Reindeer Games.”
“The Santa Sleigh was really funny watching everyone work as a team to win the race with their feet tied together,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW) Ashley Gonzalez, from Bakersfield, California, assigned to Makin Island’s medical department.
“I enjoyed the Reindeer Scramble because that’s the event I did the best in,” Torrence said with a smile.
The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.