Red Ribbon week brings big stars

1 Sep 2011 | Lance Cpl. Timothy O. Norris

The Air Station and Marine Corps Community Services will host the first free concert to support Red Ribbon week at the Air Station’s parade deck, Sept. 9.

The concert opens Red Ribbon week, a tradition 23 years in the making that helps people commit themselves to a life free of substance and alcohol abuse and raises awareness about the dangers of substance abuse.

This is the first time a concert has been included with Red Ribbon week on the Air Station, said Ivey Liipfert, Air Station commercial sponsorship coordinator.

Kellie Pickler, the main performer, is a rising country music star and a 2006 American Idol contestant.

“It will be a big production,” Liipfert said.

Pickler is no stranger to the military. She has already performed on several United Service Organization tours in support of the military.

She’s taking it one step further to raise a voice against substance abuse by performing at Red Ribbon Rocks, Liipfert said. She is wholesome, fun, current and has a great show.

“That’s why we choose her,” said Liipfert. “She can inspire people by her good example not to use illegal drugs.”

The after affects of substance abuse and alcohol on the Marine Corps and families is unacceptable, said Col. Brian C. Murtha, Air Station Commanding officer.

“It must stop and it must stop now,” he added.

Marines and sailors have had grievous consequences on their careers because of drugs and alcohol, said Regena Cooper, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island behavioral health branch head. “This is a fun, interactive way to hear an important message,” she added.

Service members can get accustomed to repetitive lectures where information is not always internalized and remembered.

Red Ribbon Rocks is the direct result of Cooper and Liipfert’s efforts to try a new approach addressing substance abuse prevention in the Lowcountry.

The event focuses on preventing drug use and stopping it with a simple message: commit yourself to live drug free.

Concessions start at 6 p.m. with food from local restaurants or guests can try any of the alcohol free “Mocktails.”

Representatives from the popular “That Guy” campaign will attend the concert handing out items promoting reasons not to abuse alcohol.

Visitors can also safely know the dangers of impaired driving by navigating a tricycle course wearing drunk goggles.

“You’re the Star,” will open the concert at 7 p.m. with several individual acts from local Marines displaying various talents. Then, regionally recognized bluegrass band “Blue Dogs” will open for Pickler.

You can win a backstage pass to meet Kellie Pickler by taking a quiz about the dangers of drugs and alcohol at www.mccs-sc.com. The first of several backstage passes has already been awarded to one excited fan.

“I’m going to have a sign that says ‘Pick Pickler,’” said Jessica Whited, the 16-year-old daughter of an Air Station Marine, and recipient of the pass.

Whited has followed Pickler since her American Idol days. Chants of “Pick Pickler” filled the house from Whited and her parents, who all share a love of country music, to cheer on their favorite contestant.

“She’s just great,” Whited said.

Whited’s 17th birthday is the day after the concert, which, she said, will make it unforgettable.

All of the activities surrounding the concert, approach the same message – Don’t do drugs, and don’t abuse alcohol.

At least, that is the message MCCS wants people to walk away from the event with, Cooper said.