By Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)December 10, 2015
An estimated 1,200 community members spent Friday night celebrating the season, as they participated in the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Winter Wonderland at Nutter Field House.
Sounds of Christmas carols echoed in the background, as Family members completed arts and crafts projects, played games, had holiday treats and even visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Merry Pickers, a high school acoustical guitar group from Pleasant Hope, Missouri, played holiday favorites for the crowd, and students from School Age Services performed songs and dances. Outdoors, the mobile USO provided snacks and hot beverages, while children had the chance to ride a mini train. There were also burn barrels to keep people warm and holiday movies playing on the big screen.
"This has been a great chance for us to get into the holiday spirit," said Amanda McBride, who brought her Family to the event. "We are enjoying spending time with Family tonight."
The lines were long for Families wanting to visit with the evening's honored guest, Santa. Nayla Jackson, 6, was all grins, as she took advantage of the opportunity to make her requests.
"I told him I wanted a Disney Princess Palace," Jackson said.
In past years, the Winter Wonderland event has been held outdoors in conjunction with the installation Tree Illumination Ceremony. This year, LoraLee Neubeck, special events coordinator with the FMWR's Installation Wide Events office, said organizers listened to feedback from past year's participants and separated the events, moving the activity portion away from a school night and putting it indoors to help keep weather from being a factor.
"The feedback we received from those in attendance was good and the children enjoyed themselves, that is what really counts at an event like this," Neubeck said.
"We took a chance separating the tree lighting event from the activities and moved the activities indoors. It turned out really well for both events," she said.
Neubeck said the Winter Wonderland is always a free event for Fort Leonard Wood Families, and one FMWR looks forward to providing each year.
"There are so many entities that make this event possible from sponsors, private organizations, units, directorates and the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation team. They all work together to make this an enjoyable event," she said.