Christmas tree lightings, festive carols and snowball fights were just a few sights, sounds and events community members recently enjoyed at Fort Rucker and surrounding communities to ring in the holiday season. Soldiers spread glad tidings during the Commanding General's Holiday Concert, performed by three dozen 98th Army Band members Tuesday night at the Post Theater. The musicians treated attendees to Christmas and Hanukkah carols to celebrate the holidays and the military spirit, said band leaders. "This show is telling the Soldier's story - that freedom isn't free," said 98th Army Band Wings Operations Branch Chief Staff Sgt. Christopher Nguyen. This year's concert was the first to incorporate visual aids and a light show, multiplying the entertainment experience, said 98th Army Band Commander WO1 George Bauer. "Our mission is to provide musical support to Soldiers and Families," he said. "It gets the holiday season started." Warrant Officer Candidate Jennifer Jackson, from Topeka, Kan., attended the show with fellow candidates and said she enjoyed the traditional and modern music provided by the band. Before the concert, others were busy elsewhere spreading Christmas cheer on the installation. Soldiers and garrison executive assistants decorated a towering Christmas tree in the headquarters building lobby Tuesday morning. Col. Christopher Carlile, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence director, donated the evergreen. The colonel originally purchased the tree for his home, only to discover it was too large, according to Maj. Letitia N. Williamson, secretary of the general staff. That spurred his desire to display the tree in Bldg. 101. Fort Rucker wasn't the only place to deck the halls and ring in the holidays this week, however. Saturday's Dothan Downtown Christmas welcomed thousands for food and winter fun. Old and young alike enjoyed a dusting of snow, a rarity in lower Alabama. Flight school students from northern states reminisced about their past white Christmases while monitoring the machine-generated Snow Zone, one of the Downtown Christmas activities. One of several D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment Soldiers overseeing the festivities, 1st Lt. Drew Richard, a Silver Lake, Ohio, resident, has seen his share of the white stuff, but said he enjoyed watching local youngsters revel in new experiences. For another student, 1st Lt. Greg Foley, it was the chance to serve others that made braving Saturday's wind and cool temperatures worthwhile. The Rutland, Vt., native noted he was mildly amused by the fuss surrounding a few inches of snow. "It's kind of funny to me because I grew up with this, but they look like they're having fun," Foley said. For some, Saturday's event provided their first snow encounters. Erica May, of Newville, brought her daughter, Gabrielle Simpson, 6, to share in the activities. "It's a good experience (for children here) because they never experience snow accumulation. It's a chance for family and friends to get together and play," May said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16