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Can anyone tell me what Sarge’s Meet And Greet is? Has anyone been there before? My son will graduate on June 7th and we are flying from the west coast. We are hope to arrive sometime around noon the day before graduation. Which leads to another question. Should we get there a day earlier, or stay a day later? 

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The meet and greet is fun for out of towners, as it is somewhere to go and meet other Navy families.

Getting in the day before is fine, unless you want to explore Chicago, then come a day or so early or stay a day or so after your Sailor ships out.

We went to Sarge's event, but ended up leaving before they even started the line for food. It's held in an old, dirty club/bar. The seating is bad, lighting is bad, and is a cash only bar. They have an outside vendor selling Navy merchandise, but you can get it cheaper at the NEX when you pick up your PIR tickets. I don't recommend it. I would say staying an extra day after PIR would be better as your sailor may not leave right away and will have liberty to spend time with you. Good luck and congratulations! 

Sarge and his wife rent out the barn, pay for the food themselves and through donations, and run a cab service to OHare and Midway to pick up parents from the airport asking for just a donation. So while it may not impress some attendees because it is an old barn and it is a cash bar, their kindness and generosity offset any minor inconveniences like having to pay for my own cocktail.  

The meet and greet is a chance to meet other SR families. It was separated into divisions, so you may meet the families of the sailors yours has been working with. Sarge also gives a lot of information about the PIR itself, which was a huge help for my family. My sailor is the first in our family to join the military, so this was a whole new experience for us. And, as was already stated, Sarge and his wife pay for this out of their own pocket, asking only for donations to help offset the cost. 

I liked the Meet and Greet.  Only thing is, don't expect to eat soon after arriving.  Sarge does talking and then he had each division get up and them another division would take a picture -- for instance Division 906 took a group picture of 907 and then 907 took a group picture of 906.  Personally, I didn't care for that part of the evening.  Personally, we liked getting in two days before graduation.  We drove around and got familiar with the area (but that's just us).  We drove to the base, drove to Welcome Center, just to get familiar with the area.  Congratulations to your new sailor.

For us the Meet in Greet was very helpful as MoMom said. We were there early enough to sit with people in our division and those families who also had sailors that were rated with our sailor helped us navigate through PIR, then having to wait on our sailor to finalize his orders and were with us watching all of our sailors leave on the same plane and fly off to their A school. I personally would have felt very lost with out the information we gleaned and friendships we made. 

But yes, dinner is later to eat and if you are really tired then skip staying for the raffle. I will say, it is best to register, that helps with the head count and I made a cash donation online. Also, the cash bar when we were there in 2017 was just soda and beer, I don't recall other alcohol, but it is provided by the owner of the event center who offers his place to Sarge, each week without charge, and so the cash bar helps to pay for the use of the facility. 

Anita, you will want to get in early enough to pick up your tickets prior to going to the Meet n Greet, but I don't think you need to arrive earlier than the day before PIR. You will not be able to see your sailor prior to PIR and some may even still be running their battle stations. 

Thank you everyone for all the information and your opinions. They were very helpful. I think we will go to the meet and greet, but eat before going. At least I know what it is now. Also, since I don’t know when my son leaves for A school, I’d rather stay an extra day and see him off, than arrive an extra day early. I’ve lived in Chicago before so I don’t feel the need to spend time as a tourist there this time around. Thank you one and all.

Anita, 

Deciding to eat prior to the Meet n Greet and then going for the fellowship and information may be wise in your case. Then once Sarge has shared information about the best route to PIR and so on, you can feel comfortable to leave and return to your hotel, for the early morning rise to get to PIR. You will want to pick up your tickets prior as I mentioned.

If your son is flying out to his A school, most likely, he will be leaving very early in the morning from RTC and will be bussed to the airport on Saturday. He may not have a flight that leaves until later in the evening, but you may stay with him at the airport. If that is the case, you will want to have a motel room to be able to go back to and rest/ sleep. Also, depending on the PIR date, you could have other variables that will affect when your sailor actually flies out, so staying an extra day after PIR is probably your better option.

In my case,not being a very social person, I went mainly to have something to occupy those last long hours before finally being able to see my sailor again,lol. Would I do it again? Yes. Being in a room with a lot of happy people all anticipating reunions the following day is the best way I can imagine spending the evening before PIR

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