Fort Irwin’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program hosted the installation’s annual Island Beach Bash May 28, 2022, at the Sandy Basin Community Center, at Fort Irwin, Calif.
The Island Beach Bash began as a way to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and continues to provide an opportunity for the Fort Irwin community to learn more about the cultures.
Brandi Crist, director of Fort Irwin’s FMWR, said she and her team start planning for the event as early as January ensure there is ample coordination between the entertainment company, FMWR, and the supporting Fort Irwin agencies.
“This event is important to both educate the Fort Irwin community and provide a diverse array of activities for the community to participate in,” Crist said. “We hope that the Fort Irwin community learns about the Pacific Islander heritage and culture by visiting the villages, watching the dances, and eating the wonderfully tasty food.”
Activities included palm weaving, Polynesian tattoo stamps, and traditional Pacific Islander performances and food.
Belinda Lopez and her husband, Sgt. Maj. Frank Lopez, the operations sergeant major with 2nd Squadron, 11th Cavalry Regiment, brought their daughter, Eiza, to the event.
“We came last year and we had such a good time,” Belinda said. “We enjoyed all of the dances, the performances, [and] the food, so we wanted to come again.”
The venue change from Army Field to Sandy Basin Community Center due to high wind weather warnings did not deter attendees, including Belinda and her family.
“Last year it was really windy, and it was outdoors, so I actually thought it would be better indoors anyway,” Belinda said. “It worked out.”
After attendees received their food, the performers showcased multiple traditional Polynesian dances from Hawaii, Tahiti, American Samoa, and other islands.
At the end of the dances, performers invited Fort Irwin community members to join them on stage to learn steps to dances.
Parents and their children experienced the Polynesian cultures through dances while spending time together, which Frank said was one of his favorite parts of the event.
“I really like the culture,” Frank said. “It really brings the family together and that’s what I like.”