SEAL BEACH, Calif. — Two dozen U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District employees and family members joined more than 3,600 participants in 110 marching groups for this year's Seal Beach Christmas Parade Dec. 7.
The District's Emergency Command and Control Vehicle returned from deployment to Hurricane Sandy response just in time to participate in the event. Vehicle operator Alex Watt and Emergency Operations Center intern Tito Carrillo spent a few hours getting the ECCV decked out for the evening's festivities. They were joined by the Safety Office vehicle which features a custom wrap for Bobber, the Water Safety Dog, and additional holiday flair added by safety specialists Fany Anderson and Anthony Henson.
"I think these events are awesome," said Carrillo. "They're great to socialize and relax outside of work."
According to Jennie Ayala, the District outreach coordinator, events like this are great opportunities to build rapport with the community and by featuring the emergency response vehicle and Corps programs like water safety, it highlights District capabilities. Ayala said the District commander also felt the event was an excellent opportunity to feature District interns, many who begin serving with the Corps while still in college.
"I know there are a lot of people out there that don't know what we [the Corps] do exactly," said intern Noemi Rodriguez. "More importantly, that we have the emergency operations vehicle out here. I think it's great."
On July 10, an executive order replaced two current intern programs with the Pathways Internship Program. The Recent Graduates Program and Presidential Management Fellows Program continue as a talent pool for the Corps.
"I'm really happy that I've been able to go section to section and see what other people do," said intern Mindy Grupe. "Not only do the work of other sections, but make those contacts that I wouldn't normally get."
All four of the District interns, who attended the parade are in the Recent Graduates Program. To qualify for the program, participants need to be within two years of graduation. The exception being veterans; their service obligations may allow them up to six years to apply for the program.
"It's good for us to be out there, to be seen," said intern David Tran. "The Corps impacts heavily in flood control, everywhere there's some risk of flood. Once you get out there, they'll ask questions and that's how we inform the public what our mission is."