Independence Day festivities taking place at Onslow Beach to feature music by Col. Mike Corrado

This year’s Independence Day festivities on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune might look a bit different from an outside perspective but, for coordinators and performers in the event, there’s a great deal that harkens back to some of the installation’s most popular recreational celebrations. The event is traditionally held at W.P.T. Hill Field but this year Marine Corps Community Services has decided to bring the bash to Onslow Beach.

“With everything going on in W.P.T. Hill Field it would just not have been safe,” said Yolanda Mayo, deputy operations officer for MCCS Lejeune-New River. “Also we have so many of the buildings that we utilize during the event still being fixed and renovated.”

Onslow Beach has seen its fair share of events in the past, however. Over a decade ago the oceanfront was home to the annual “Sand Jam” on MCB Camp Lejeune which gave Marines, Sailors and their families a chance to spend time with their families and friends on the beach. Due to the smaller crowd sizes, Mayo and other coordinators saw it as an ideal location for Independence Day.

“It is (open to) DoD card holders and their guests,” Mayo said. “In the past we invited the whole public and we’d open up the gates to have them come aboard the base. It’s going to be a family event. This year we felt like we wanted one of our own on stage celebrating with us. That’s why we wanted Mike to play. When I say family I mean the Marine Corps Family.”

Enter Col. Mike Corrado, Marine Corps Forces Reserve. Corrado will be the talent at this year’s Independence Day celebration. Corrado has seen play on networks such as CMT and GAC as well as having his music and videos regularly played on the Armed Forces Network overseas. He’s known for such songs as “On My Watch Tonight” and “Stand” as well as for being a popular musician across the area. Corrado is excited to take his talents back to the beach as well, having played a couple of shows in the Sand Jam days.

“I had a chance in 2014 to open for L.L. Cool J,” Corrado said. “The fireworks show was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I’m really excited to have it on Onslow Beach. It’s a lot of fun to do a show out on the beach. It’s real.”

Corrado also sees the smaller size of the event as a benefit.

“I think that’s going to make it more intimate,” Corrado said. “I call it playing for the home team.”

Mayo has similar fond memories of performances on Onslow Beach.

“Col. (Scott) Baldwin (deputy commander, MCB Camp Lejeune-Marine Corps Installations East) and I were laughing the other day remembering some of the shows,” Mayo said. “Back when I was a corporal or maybe even a lance corporal we had Cheap Trick playing out there.”

As for the future, coordinators aren’t making any sweeping decisions.

“We don’t know what we’ll do next year,” Mayo said. “This may be something that’s popular and continues into the future or we may head back to W.P.T. Hill Field.”

The Independence Day celebration will take place in the bulk of Onslow Beach directly across the bridge. Shuttle services will be available so parents with small children are urged to either wait for a shuttle or plan for a short walk. Food vendors and beverages will be available. Mike Corrado and his band will take the stage at 7 p.m. for their performance. The event is not open to the public.

“This is America’s finest fighting force,” Mayo said. “They protect our freedoms. We want to give them a chance to come out and celebrate as a family.”

As for the pyrotechnics at the end of the night, Mayo was adamant that they will be just as impressive as they have been any other year.

“It’s the same fireworks we’d have had on Mainside,” Mayo said.

For more information on the Independence Day festivities on Camp Lejeune visit mccslejeune-newriver.com.