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NSA Souda Bay Celebrates Greek Rethymno Carnival with MWR

22 March 2024

From Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Delaney S. Jensen

Immaculately-made floats – from the wholesome to the salaciously-themed – inch by as hundreds of performers in matching costumes, makeup and masks march through the streets of Rethymno, one of Crete’s main cities. Among the adorning onlookers are Sailors and personnel assigned to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, who are patronizing the parade as part of a cultural immersion trip organized by the installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY SOUDA BAY, Greece (March 17, 2024)

Loud music and confetti fills the air as brightly costumed-clad onlookers slowly shuffle their feet in search of the best vantage point of the main street through Rethymno, Crete, Greece. Laughter, music, and the piercing shrill of whistles charge the air with anticipation for the main event. With the passing of glittering dancers, twirling by in either direction, it’s clear that the wait is over. The grand parade has begun.

Immaculately-made floats – from the wholesome to the salaciously-themed – inch by as hundreds of performers in matching costumes, makeup and masks march through the streets of Rethymno, one of Crete’s main cities. Among the adorning onlookers are Sailors and personnel assigned to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, who are patronizing the parade as part of a cultural immersion trip organized by the installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).

Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Ada Guo, assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade  on March 17, 2024.
Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Ada Guo, assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Ada Guo, assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade  on March 17, 2024.
NSA Souda Bay Celebrates Greek Rethymno Carnival with MWR
Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Ada Guo, assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Photo By: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Delaney S. Jensen
VIRIN: 240317-N-EM691-1020


MWR offers a wide array of services to the personnel assigned to NSA Souda Bay -- from cultural events, recreational activities, outdoor adventures and Greek holiday traditions are no exception.

NSA Souda Bay is located in the Chania Municipality, approximately 30 miles from Rethymno. To allow Sailors and personnel with the opportunity to witness this cultural observance firsthand, the installation’s MWR team took care of the planning. They provided transportation by loading up vans with all the members of Team Souda who were interested in partaking: Sailors, Airmen and civilian employees alike.

“It is such a joy to be give Sailors the ability to experience Greek culture and traditions,” said Fleet Readiness Director Christy Eschenbacher, NSA Souda Bay MWR. “It’s one of my favorite parts of my job – to help facilitate these memories they will always carry with them.”

Sailors and personnel assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrate Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Sailors and personnel assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrate Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Sailors and personnel assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrate Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
NSA Souda Bay Celebrates Greek Rethymno Carnival with MWR
Sailors and personnel assigned to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, celebrate Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Photo By: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Delaney S. Jensen
VIRIN: 240317-N-EM691-1432


Those of the Greek Orthodox faith use Carnival, or “Apokries”, as a three-week celebration before commencement of the 40-day Great Lent. For the devoted Greek Orthodox Christian, Lent is a traditional time to abstain from rich foods and other indulgences. In preparation for this piety, the three-week period of Apokries has become a period of merriment, feasts, and loud parades that fill the squares and streets of many Greek cities.

Parades are held on the last Sunday as the grand finale to the festivities before Lent. On Crete, locations often include Souda, Paleochora, Kalyves, Kastelli, Kissamos, Malia, and Heraklion, however, the most famous is the Rethymno Carnival.

This year’s theme is “Companionship” and rightfully so, as the Rethymno Carnival brings together people from all over the world. Visitor and locals come to see the giant, brightly colored parade and celebrate being together. This year, the city hoped to remind the onlookers they can set technology and screens aside and enjoy one another’s company in person, especially after the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Mass communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Eckelbecker, assigned to American Forces Network Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade  on March 17, 2024.
Mass communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Eckelbecker, assigned to American Forces Network Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Mass communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Eckelbecker, assigned to American Forces Network Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade  on March 17, 2024.
NSA Souda Bay Celebrates Greek Rethymno Carnival with MWR
Mass communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Eckelbecker, assigned to American Forces Network Souda Bay, Greece, celebrates Carnival by attending a huge parade on March 17, 2024.
Photo By: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Delaney S. Jensen
VIRIN: 240317-N-EM691-1005


“My favorite thing about being overseas is getting to learn about and take part in the local culture,” said Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Eckelbecker. “MWR always makes it so easy to feel like I am involved in my host country’s traditions. It’s so much fun to get out to Rethymno and see how the Greeks celebrate Carnival!”
 

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