By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public AffairsDecember 10, 2008
Fort Lee, Va. (Dec. 11, 2008) -- Presenting routine safety briefs in an appealing way is a challenge that the annual Fort Lee Holiday Safety Show has taken up for the past 23 years. This year, it sought another encore.
Held at the Lee Playhouse Dec. 1- 4, the Holiday Safety Show featured a cast of more than 30 volunteers who gave 13 performances that strayed away from routine and occasionally bland safety messages and seasoned them with a creative mix of song, dance and comedy. Safety and Occupational Health Specialist Roque Garza, project manager for the program, said awareness through entertainment is the driving force behind the show.
"When you see the individuals come in here, especially the young trainees, it opens their minds," he said. "They'll come in here with doubt, wondering what this is all about, and when you ask them on the way out of the door, 'Did you gain anything'' They'll make comments like, 'Yeah, that was cool.'"
Garza said the messages resonate more with younger Soldiers when the messengers are peers.
"The comments that I get from the Soldiers, as well as the cadre, is that the show is well received," he said.
With much of the post population set to travel outside local areas during the holidays, vehicle safety and trip preparation seemed to be the show's main messages. There were several skits and performances that highlighted those points, including one by the Transportation Express. The nine-member Fort Eustis song and dance group, representing the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, gave a unique presentation of "Carol of the Bells," substituting lines like "All seem to say/Throw cares away" with the catch phrase "Don't drink and drive."
The show also emphasized the importance of Stop Cards, championed by Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers. The red cards were distributed shortly after Chambers, the Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, took command last summer. It gives all community members the authority to halt unsafe acts on post and provided the impetus for the number, "Stop in the Name of Safety," a play on the Supremes' classic, "Stop in the Name of Love."
Other performances in the show included a vocal performance by Spc. Aaron Ledlow and Ret. Maj. Mike White and several chorus numbers performed by various members of the community. Chambers and Brig. Gen. Jesse R. Cross, Quartermaster Center and School commanding general, were featured in videotaped safety messages. Attendance for this year's show was mandatory for all military and Civilian employees.