By Lance Davis, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs OfficeDecember 11, 2015
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Dec. 11, 2015) -- U.S. Army Garrison Japan hosted three events Dec. 1, 2 and 4 to start off the winter holiday season at Camp Zama.
U.S. Army Japan Band kicked-off events Dec. 1 with a holiday concert at the Camp Zama Community Activity Center's auditorium entertaining audience members with classical Christmas and jazz tunes.
Immediately following the concert, Col. William Johnson and Command Sgt. Maj. Rosalba Dumont-Carrion, commander and command sergeant major of USAG Japan, respectively, presided over the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Several children surrounded Johnson and Dumont-Carrion to assist them with the lighting of the tree just inside the main gate of Camp Zama.
"The real secret to the season and holiday lighting is the people who come out to support it," said Johnson. "To have the kids here and see the joy in their faces is wonderful."
Riding up to the event in a fire truck, Santa Claus greeted the children with candy and gave them the opportunity to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. The children were also able to take pictures with him.
The second event, similar to first, was held Dec. 2 at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area installation with the U.S. Army Japan & I Corps (Forward) Commander, Maj. Gen. James Pasquarette, Dumont-Carrion and children from the community lighting the Christmas tree; which is also just inside the main gate of SFHA.
The week of events concluded with the annual Christmas Around the World event hosted by the Children, Youth and School Services at the Camp Zama Youth Center.
Robert Chance, school liaison with CYSS, said the purpose of the event was to present a holiday celebration event that brings Camp Zama's diverse community together as one through entertainment and a variety of food from different cultures around the world.
"I think it's pretty cool because you see different nationalities represented and how they celebrate Christmas and it brings the community together," said Jinara Otero, a student at Zama American High School.
Several activities were set up carnival-style outside the Youth Center including ice skating; a variety of games; arts and crafts; live music from the USARJ Band and several performances from children and youth in the community; and a raffle for a free trip to Tokyo Disneyland for a group of four.
Michael Schmiedel, a student at Arnn Elementary, said he enjoyed playing on the train bouncy house the most.
Several children and families entered "Christmas Fantasy Land," which displayed a white themed Christmas filled with lights, decorated trees, animals and of course, Santa Claus waiting at the end to ask the children- "What do you want for Christmas?" and "Have you been naughty or nice?"
Inside the Youth Center, there was plenty of food displayed from "around the world" for participants to sample, including Japanese, Jewish, Scottish, Chinese, Brazilian and German cuisines.
Leani Hamilton, a student at Arnn Elementary, said she enjoyed trying different foods like the sushi, chicken and pork.
Christmas Around the World concluded with Jennifer Anderson, an employee from the SFHA Child Development Center, winning the raffle free trip to Tokyo Disneyland.
"I'm so excited because I never win anything," Anderson said. "My three daughters will join me."
"I feel awesome... a lot of people pulled together to make these events successful for the community," said Johnson. "I hope our community and Japanese friends have appreciated and enjoyed this as much I have."