Generals Loop lights up night, installation
December 15, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - More than 1,000 Soldiers, civilians, friends and family members gathered at Generals Loop, here, for the annual Community Holiday Concert and Tree Lighting Ceremony, Dec. 4.
Providing entertainment and holiday spirit, each year the ceremony fosters Christmas cheer in everyone who attends.
"The annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and concert, as well as the Holiday Card Lane, are an annual event that goes back to the mid-1990s," said James Brown, north community director, U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu. "It provides an opportunity to usher in the holiday season and spirit on the installations. Both the Oahu North and South communities conduct the ceremonies for their respective communities."
Following the tradition of tree lighting ceremonies in the past, holiday revelers were treated to musical entertainment, refreshments and a visit from the North Pole's most well-known resident.
After an invocation from Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Timothy Walls, community chaplain, Schofield Barracks, Brig. Gen. Mark MacCarley, deputy commanding general, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, delivered a holiday message.
"Within our audience gathered this evening, we have both military and civilian members of our community," MacCarley said. "That blend is truly symbolic of all walks of life, coming together, as Americans, to celebrate this special time of year. The lighting of this tree is a symbol of this unity."
MacCarley continued, speaking of the sacrifices of deployed service members.
"The spirit of this season is one of life and sharing, a spirit shared by all of us here tonight," he said. "For those that cannot be with us this evening, like our deployed Soldiers, who, like this tree, stand tall and strong for what we all believe in - this great country and the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Keep them close in our hearts and in our prayers."
At the conclusion of MacCarley's remarks, winners of the annual Holiday Card Lane were recognized.
Fely Ramos and Ella Mann accepted the first place award on behalf of First Hawaiian Bank. Spc. Natalia Saraceno accepted the second place award on behalf of 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. Bennett Moore accepted the third place award on behalf of Army Hawaii Family Housing.
The holiday cards will be displayed along Schofield's McComb Road throughout the holiday season.
Each year, a distinguished guest is chosen be the Holiday Tree Lighter, who, after the audience counts down, pushes a big red button and illuminates the 90-foot Norfolk pine tree centered on Schofield's Generals Loop.
This year's tree lighter was 17-year-old Madelyn Grandmaison, high school senior at the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind in Waikiki and Special Olympics athlete.
Madelyn's father, retired Staff Sgt. Marc Grandmaison, is a contractor at Schofield's East Range.
Entertainment was provided by Solomon Elementary School's chorus, directed by Patricia Pope, and Mililani High School's concert band, led by Curtis Hiyane. Leilehua High School students donned elf and other holiday-themed costumes, handing out candy and playing with children.
The South community held its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Thursday, at Fort Shafter's historic Palm Circle. Brig. Gen. John Seward, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army-Pacific, hosted the ceremony.
See next week's issue of the <i>Hawaii Army Weekly</i> for coverage.