By Julia LeDoux, Pentagram Staff WriterDecember 11, 2013
The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community kicked off the holiday season Dec. 4 with its annual tree lighting ceremony in front of Bldg. 59 on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base.
Dozens of service members, civilians and their families gathered for the event, which included a holiday sing-a-long with music provided by The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" and a visit from a certain Jolly Old Elf.
Joint base Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter asked attendees to remember the nation's service members who are deployed around the world during this special time of year.
"During this time of the holidays, regardless of what holiday you celebrate in your individual home, [I ask that] you remember all of our deployed forces around the world. We hear a lot right now about Afghanistan; but frankly, the military is deployed in over 150 locations now," she said.
Sumpter was joined in lighting the tree by Joint Force National Capital Region/Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, and three students from the Cody Child Development Center, Theodore Henderson, Margaret Leighton and Hampton McNeil.
"On the count of three, we're going to flip the switch and magic is going to happen," said Sumpter, who then let the crowd in on a little secret.
"Earlier today, when I was in my office, I got a text," she continued. "I have a special relationship with the big guy, Santa, who said that he is going to try to make it here tonight to visit all of the special kids at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Let's hope he shows up. I hope he does."
True to his text to Sumpter, Santa joined the celebration immediately after the tree was lit. Leaving his sleigh and eight reindeer at his North Pole headquarters, Santa was instead escorted to the ceremony by members of the joint base police department, who heralded Mr. Claus' arrival with blue lights and sirens.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Pattison of The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" led the crowd in singing several carols, including "O Christmas Tree," "Frosty the Snowman" and "Jingle Bells."
Santa Claus posed for photos and listened to the holiday dreams of the kids inside The U.S. Army Band's headquarters at Brucker Hall, which was festively decorated for the celebration. Air Force Majors Dylan and Deborah Newman, who are stationed at the Pentagon, were among those who brought their children Magnus, 4, Maliah, 2, and Ella, one month, to the event.
"It's really neat. We've been to it the past two years," said Dylan Newman. "We think it's a neat little family get together, we get to see Santa and the tree lighting."
To see more photos from the annual tree lighting event, log onto www.flickr.com/photos/jbm-hh.