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By Chris Frost
Tri County Sentry
Port Hueneme-- The Hueneme Beach Festival made its triumphant return, Saturday and Sunday, August 28 and 29, and the event brought out a large crowd of people ready to have a great time.
The festival featured two music stages, great food, vendors, and lots of amusement rides to keep everyone happy.
Mayor Steven Gama is thrilled to welcome everyone back to the Hueneme Beach Festival.
"We want to be safe," he said. "It's a person's own comfort zone, I have a mask in my hand, and if I get a little too close to people, I might put it on. This has been a long time coming, people are excited, and the most exciting thing is we have entertainment that's amazing. People are paying $50-60 per ticket, and it's free in Hueneme Beach."
Gama plans to hit the midway and find some Tai Chicken.
"It's the best chicken in the world," he said. "I'm a big fan of chicken."
He loves that the festival added a ferris wheel in 2021.
"Look at that thing; it's beautiful," Gama said. "I think this (the rides) opened up because the fair is closed."
Lorisa Robles from the Ben Moreell Battalion of the US Naval Sea Cadets said bringing the festival back is a wonderful experience.
"It's awesome that our cadets get to interact with people socially, as well as volunteering for the event," she said. "It brings a lot of joy to people."
She said the cadets were taking shifts and cleaning up the area.
"There are so many that wanted to come out here and participate," she said. "They have buckets, and they are going around and picking up trash. They put up all the chairs and set up the tables. There are a lot of chairs out there."
Robles said she had other kids working the table and advertising the Sea Cadets to anyone between 10-18 years old.
"The Sea Cadets are amazing, and you're going to want to do this," Petty Officer Caden Hall said. "You learn leadership, how to be disciplined, and most importantly, you learn teamwork. If you don't have teamwork, you don't have discipline, and any of the stuff we teach is going to be so difficult in life."
He said the group does anything a new recruit would want, which includes scuba diving, culinary, medical, and aviation training.
"There are so many different things you can do," he said. "I've been doing this for seven years, and it feels so good to be out here doing this again. It feels like I belong again."
E2 Faith Olaleye created a poster that was on display.
"It was actually from a picture for Memorial Day," she said. "It's pointing to a mountain at the top of Point Magu to place flags for the people who are Sea Cadets, joined the armed forces, and died and the POWs and those who are MIA."
Jonnie Lisman said the group was just getting started for the day, and things are going well.
"We have good kids," she said. "They're used to taking orders, and if we don't tell them, they'll stand around and say, what do I do? They need a system to go out and do it themselves. We put it in to them to take control. If you see something, take the initiative and do it."
Amelia, Darla, Cecilia, and Feliciano Cruz wanted to get out and hit the festival.
"We came to see our local community get together and enjoy everybody's company," Amelia said. "We came to look at the sand sculptures and just walk around really quick. We're heading out now."
Linda Klein from Mary Kay brought some new trainees to the festival.
"These are girls who don't even live here," she said. "We have all our facials on Zoom, and we send out free samples. They (the trainees) can have leads, people who would like a free skincare session, from anywhere."
She is impressed by how much the event has grown.
"It's the biggest it has ever been," she said. "We're getting huge crowds, even though it's still early, and it's going to get more and more crowded all day."
Tracy Lovett is a new consultant and loves Mary Kay.
"You need to learn how to greet people, be friendly, and believe in your products," she said. "It sells itself. I call Linda my grandmother at Mary Kay because she has a pink Cadillac. When I saw her, I decided that I have to do this. I listen to her, we have meetings together, and we learn, have ideas, and tell each other what works."
Fragrant Fran Haynes said Klein is the best mentor ever.
"She's already had the bloody knees herself," Haynes said. "She never teaches what she hasn't experienced, so we can have confidence and faith in what she is doing."
Port Hueneme Police Chaplain Merrick Carter said people are wandering up to their booth and thanking the police for their service.
"They love my hat," he said. "They're asking about the dunking and who we're going to dunk in the machine. The chief gets dunked tomorrow, and one of our explorers is going today, but we are waiting for the water."
He's loves being back out among the people and away from the Covid-19 restrictions.
"Everybody is happy to be out and having a joyous time," he said.
Explorer Ben Negrete said he got dunked last year, and he decided to do it again.
"It's fun, but it was cold last time because there was a lot of shade," he said. "I wore a wet suit this time, but there is no water, so I am just sweating this time."
He loves getting the opportunity to work at the festival.
"You don't know how things work behind the scenes," he said. "I haven't seen this many people together in a while."
Oxnard DRAGG Volunteer Giselle Bice said the group wants to support and give back to the City of Port Hueneme. DRAGG teaches auto mechanics to youth, and they leave with a life skill.
"They've been wonderful and so involved, led by the chief," she said. "When the chief asked us to be here, we came and made sure we brought two cars to showcase our program."
She drove the big truck on display to the event but said she was okay with that.
"I'm involved in DRAGG because I believe in support programs that help kids out," she said. "DRAGG does. They have clear outcomes, the graduates come back and they have a strong alumni program. I see the job placements, and there are opportunities for these kids. If a kid isn't into activities and athletics, it's an opportunity for them to shine."
She hasn't seen any other program that does the work that DRAGG does.
Students who think they can hang out elsewhere should give DRAGG a try.
"You can come and hang out at the shop," she said. "On top of that, you can probably get connected, get a job, and probably have good references and letters of recommendation."
The group is building a car, but she couldn't say what type it was.
"With the car program, Ford solicits applications," Bice said.
The program, she said, is open to everybody.
"Even more so, talking about equity," she said. "We need to get as many diverse students as we can, which includes girls and help them get in there. It's not necessarily about changing the car or changing the oil; there are so many other elements like business marketing, advertising, and having a good business acumen when the kids get out."