This past week, over a dozen volunteers from Commander, U.S. Second Fleet and other active duty commands converged on the Decker Half Moone Cruise Center in downtown Norfolk for a unique community relations experience. Their mission: augment the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s staff and volunteer corps to set up the region’s largest free single day LEGO event at a venue that normally hosts cruise passengers from near and far.
This year’s event returns on Saturday, February 1st, 2020 from 10am to 4pm at the Decker Half Moone Cruise Center for the 9th year in a row. Docking at the cruise center will be boatloads of LEGOs for visitors to build, Duplos, a large free play area, a hands-on robotics demonstration, arts and crafts for all ages, and of course a LEGO ship model competition for prizes that draws in creative entries.
Its all part of the Naval Museum’s outreach efforts to make Naval History and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Concepts relevant in a fun and engaging way. But before the event kicks off, active duty volunteers spent several days transforming the Decker Center in anticipation of the large crowds.
Last years event brought in 5,272 visitors with over 120 active duty volunteers from area commands staffed the event. In addition, volunteers also conducted a thorough walk through of the event to ensure that everyone is on the same page. In the lead up to this year’s event, volunteers unpacked LEGO totes, set up barriers, placed tables and chairs, and set up directional signage in a COMREL evolution like no other.
According to MC1(SW/AW) Joshua Shephard, LPO with nearby Commander, U.S. Second Fleet, over a dozen volunteers from his command alone helped set up, staff and will take down the event. Active duty volunteers from the Ticonderoga-Class Guided Missile Cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG-64) were also out in force, along with other commands, providing the muscle setting up tables, chairs, and free play areas at the direction of Special Events Coordinator, Tom Dandes.
The Naval Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator, Darcy Sink commented on the contingents of both military and civilian volunteers setting up the event, and noted that “when the general public sees active duty sailors volunteering for the Naval Museum, it shows that we are relevant; it helps bring the Navy and the community together.”
Sink noted that thus far, over 120 active duty volunteers have signed up to volunteer the day of the big event; and will help with the scores of excited visitors to build LEGO ship models of current and historic Naval Warships. Additionally, volunteers will be on hand helping with free play areas, registering LEGO ship model entries, registering participants and of course helping with the crush of visitors both military and civilian who travel from near and far to take part in a free event like no other.
More information about the upcoming free LEGO shipbuilding event, taking place on Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Decker Half Moone Cruise Center in Downtown Norfolk can be found by visiting http://hrnm.navy.mil