As a huge football fan, Gary Crisp said he decided years ago he wanted those who serve the country to enjoy American’s biggest sports event in an “over-the-top” way.
So, 12 years ago, he and his wife, Julie, who own the Costa Mesa-based Crisp Imaging, Inc., decided to invite hundreds of active-duty Marines from Camp Pendleton to their home for a massive Super Bowl party.
“It’s all about being thankful and grateful to the military for protecting our freedoms,” said Gary Crisp, whose father and two brothers served in the Army. “We want to create a day they never forget and really love on them.”
First, the Crisps held the bash at their Cota De Caza home. When they moved to Corona del Mar, they asked America Legion Harbor Post 291 on the Balboa Peninsula if they could hold it there.
So on Sunday, Feb. 12, busloads of Marines from Camp Pendleton’s 5th Marine Regiment and some from other units arrived on the peninsula ready to spend the day enjoying the Super Bowl. Another two hundred or so veterans from across Southern California were also invited.
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Crisp called Sunday’s event, “the biggest one yet.”
It started early with breakfast and then a slew of activities ranging from games, boat rides, massages and card games to live performances by musicians, the Raiders’ cheerleaders, the USC marching band and raffle prizes and giveaways.
There was also lunch and dinner and mixed in between the events were featured speakers, including celebrity athletes and commanders from Camp Pendleton, including Col. Christopher Steele, commanding officer of the 5th Marine Regiment and Sgt. Major Garret Kirkby.
When it came to the actual Super Bowl, everyone was dialed into the game.
The Crisps also donated $25,000 to the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group, with its mission to provide support and outreach to the 5th Marines and sailors deployed from and stationed at Camp Pendleton, as well as their families.
Terry Rifkin, president of the support group, was among those at the party.
“To see these guys in a relaxed environment really having fun is amazing,” she said. “They’re training hard and their deployments are hard.”
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