Cinderella’s got nothing on the dazzling dresses and fancy “up do’s” worn by the ladies, accompanied by the men, who were transformed into dashing cadets attending the ninth annual Naval Junior ROTC Military Ball. The event transpired on the 19th of February from 4:00pm to 9:30pm at the elegant and majestic Aqua Turf in Plantsville, Connecticut.
The students in leadership positions, ROTC cadets, educators, and various other attendees all deemed the shindig a smashing success. Mark Dwinells, the architect of the event, stated that his favorite part was “Seeing the kids acting like refined ladies and gentlemen.”
Lt. Commander Dwinells is the commander of the ROTC program at Bethel High School. With the assistance of Master Sergeant Meehan, he instructs the cadets in proper etiquette, military history, team- work, as well as ballroom dancing, which all play a role in the Military Ball.
Before the guests enjoyed an exquisite evening of dancing with their dates and friends, attendees viewed an assortment of reenactments performed by cadets, as well as inspirational speeches. One reenactment struck home for our senior veteran, Mr. Anthony Yachaki. As a Marine veteran of the iconic World War II battle of Iwo Jima, the unit’s portrayal of the flag-raising honored the memory of his comrades and captured the attention of over 600 guests. Throughout the ten-minute long presentation, the spacious ballroom rang silent.
This year’s guest of honor, John Ratzenberger, spoke about the importance of patriotism and, more specifically, American manufacturing, explaining it is the backbone of our work ethic, our economy, and ultimately our society. The well known actor from Bridgeport, Connecticut Ratzenberger stated that “I was very honored and very humbled” to receive the invitation to attend the military ball. The actor appeared in numerous popular Pixar movies, such as Toy Story, Cars 2, and Ratatouille. Ratzenberger is also well known for his role as in the hit television series, Cheers. In addition, his faith in Bethel’s young cadets is evident, for he states that they are “the future of America.”
During Ratzenberger’s well-delivered speech, guests were treated to a formal dinner beginning with tossed salad, penne with meat sauce, and fresh dinner rolls. The entree followed; guests were given a selection of sliced top sirloin, baked scrod with cracker crumbs, and chicken valdestone, along with roasted potatoes, and a sumptuous dessert of chocolate mousse. The delectable meal was coupled with a toast of ginger ale with blueberries, uniting the whole room. The evening concluded with carrot cake, which was sliced with the sword and served to the head table.
Cadets concluded the ceremony with ballroom dancing on the glossy, hardwood dance floor beneath the shimmering chandeliers at the Aqua Turf. Guests danced the night away to mixed music provided by DJ “Kirk Michaels”, along with formal waltzes: the Fox Trot, the Commander’s Waltz, the Salsa, as well as a variety of additional dances. Students and cadets learned these dances by attending lessons provided by Commander Dwinells prior to the Ball.
The memories made on this evening were captured by the many photographs taken, and will be held dear to the hundreds of people who attended.