WINCHESTER, Va. -- Marines with Recruiting Sub-Stations Winchester and Martinsburg woke up bright and early May 2 to set-up for the two busiest days of the weeklong Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival with one goal in mind, make appointments. The festival is the largest recruiting event in Recruiting Station Frederick’s area with more than 200,000 attendees.
To bring in attendees and possible appointments, the Marines brought out a staple of recruiting events across the country, the pull-up challenge. Each RSS has their own recipe for success but the basics remain the same: pull-ups, incentive items and appointments.
“I think that with an event this big it was crucial to have good poolees there to assist with crowd control and managing the pull-up bars,” said Staff Sgt. Jorge Santiago, the staff noncommissioned officer of RSS Winchester and native of Bethlehem, Pa. “This enabled the recruiters to focus on specific prospects and effectively engage them.”
Having a large staff made it easy to set appointments on the spot.
“I made a trifold display of the RSS schedule and results book for all recruiters,” said Staff Sgt. Lance Gray, the assistant staff noncommissioned officer of RSS Winchester and native of Savannah, Tenn. “That way we had a visual representation of obligations for two weeks after and were able to set appointments for each other and set appointments around our schedule. This made it easy to effectively keep track of everything, while still engaging with the crowd and keeping the event community oriented.”
Robin Martin, a Winchester native and festival goer, took the flexed-arm hang challenge and hung for over a minute. When asked why she did it she pointed at Sgt. Norman Burris, a recruiter with RSS Winchester and native of Texas, and said, “That man right there.”
“My favorite part was not actually me interacting with the crowd but seeing how Sgt. Burris interacted with the crowd,” said Santiago. “They seemed to really respond to the head to head pull-up competition and Sgt. Burris took it a step further with having the little kids challenge their parents for prizes.”
Burris, the newest recruiter of RSS Winchester, turned the event up by making it a challenge between friends and family. Two pull-up bars were placed across from each other and passersby were encouraged to challenge each other to pull-ups or the flexed-arm hang.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, YOU will mount my bar when I tell you to mount my bar, I will call up and you will go up. I am looking for your chin to cross the bar,” said Burris, with a little Marine Corps motivation and a loud voice to the crowd.
Aside from the pull-up challenge, there was also an inflatable drill instructor and a vehicle display.
Marines from 4th Marine Corps District set up the H-1 Hummer and Marine Corps trailer, which is a crowd pleaser and major attention grabber.
“It gets our brand out there,” said Sgt. Andreas Moreno, 4th Marine Corps District Enhanced Motor Vehicle operator. “These events allow people to see that the Marine Corps is more than just the infantry and that there are multiple opportunities in the Marine Corps.”
At the end of the event the team of Marines and pooless set over 20 appointments and generated over 500 leads.