By Gabrielle Kuholski December 19, 2013
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, or FMWR, made the holiday season brighter for Families Dec. 13 and Saturday as it held the fourth annual Night of Extraordinary Lights, or N.O.E.L, at Mountain View Golf Course. FMWR expected 3,000 people to attend. The free event was open to the entire community.
This year's event was as much about children as it was about Families. FMWR, volunteers from the 305th and 309th Military Intelligence Battalions, the Non-commissioned Officers Academy, and local business sponsors made sure there were plenty of activities on hand to keep children entertained.
N.O.E.L's main attraction, the hayride, took attendees through a "Christmas wonderland" where light displays met the cold air. While many displays included Santa, riders saw angels, reindeer, and characters from Sesame Street, Charlie Brown and Disney.
For attendees like the Wood Family, the hayride was an exciting first experience for daughters Alyssa, 6, and Eliana, 3. They said their favorite part of the light display was seeing the baby Jesus in the nativity scene.
Children seemed also excited to see Santa in the arts-and-crafts tent. Other activities included holiday movies on a jumbo screen and ice skating. According to James Thomas, FMWR special events coordinator, the rink was made of a synthetic material.
"It's not exactly ice, but it slides like ice when you have ice skates on," he said.
Outside the rink, portable fire pits were set up to roast marshmallows and make s 'mores. Thomas estimated N.O.E.L. participants would make 750 s 'mores each night.
Craft vendors were also on hand for adults interested in holiday shopping.
On Saturday, FMWR and Sierra Cycles concluded their "Toy Under the Tree" giveaway of a Kawasaki KLX 140 ADF dirt bike, valued at $2,999.
"We've had 10 events before N.O.E.L. At each event, [people] put their names into a box and we've drawn a name, so we have 10 winners … " Thomas said adding that one of the winners would take home the bike.
The contestants participated in three different drawings before selecting a key. Pvt. Samual Atchley, Company C, 305th MI Bn., held and used the lucky key to successfully open the lock on the dirt bike.
Atchley said he plans to sell the bike to a Family who would love one for their children.
"I have bigger dirt bikes at home, so I'd like to help out somebody else for Christmas," Atchley explained.
No contestant went home empty handed. At the end of the giveaway, each person received a FMWR t-shirt.