United States Army Garrison Humphreys families, Soldiers, and one special guest helped usher in the holidays with a tree lighting ceremony at the garrison’s Downtown Plaza Dec. 3.
From Humphreys family theatre to the art center, community members danced, sang, and ate their way through the night leading up to the main event, the tree lighting ceremony.
The festivities set the scene for what was about to happen……feedback came from the speakers and then dulled. The master of ceremony took to the mic to navigate the crowd to the balcony featuring a brick-made chimney.
With a “Ho, ho, ho” Old Saint Nick magically went from the top of the balcony to the bottom of the chimney. Children ran from their parents to greet him. In the presence of the familiar, bearded gentlemen they followed him as he was escorted to the Christmas tree.
Met by Col. Seth Graves, garrison commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Lemon, garrison enlisted adviser and one chosen family, Santa made his way around the crowd to the front of the tree.
Stacked hands atop the button, smallest to largest, reached up and slowly lowered their hands… one, two, three and gasps spread across the crowd as the lights illuminate the large tree in the background.
Soon people from the outside of the plaza were coming in to see what was happening in the once dark area. As they walked through the plaza area their heads moved upward to gaze at the icicle shaped lights which hung from light post to light post. Holidays wreaths with large-red bows were situated at the top of the post and Santa’s sleigh and reindeer decorated the adjacent building.
Major Scott Tanaka, assigned to the 1st Signal Brigade, said he and his family have been stationed at Camp Humphreys since July. They were just passing by the area when they saw the tree light up. This excited his son so the two of them came to see what was going on.
“My little guy went wild and started running around,” said Tanaka. “Like a lot of Army events, if you are looking for something to do, this can be a good family event for the little guys.”
All the Christmas spirit that was alive outside was mirrored inside of the decorated recreation center. Parents with hot chocolate in hand and children by their side walked through the center coloring, playing with toys, and eating candy the volunteers set out for them.
Carley Johnson, secretary of the United Spouses Club, said she was excited to see the children and everyone have a good time. She could tell by all the smiles and laughter everyone was happy to be in such a joyful space with holiday spirit and support.
Jolly, merry music played over the speakers and across the way from recreation center Santa found himself a cozy seat with his elves, waiting to take pictures with those leaping children and their parents.
Private 1st Class Ko Jung-hon, one of Santa’s elves, said he has never participated in an event like the tree light ceremony in Korea, and it has been a good experience helping to prepare for the event. He enjoyed seeing the children having fun and talking to Santa.
“I just wanted to help the community and I am proud to be here,” said Ko.
The night of the tree lighting ceremony brought, fun, laughter, candy, Santa, and families together. This night brought Christmas spirit.
“I needed something to bring my daughter out to and I needed to be in the Christmas spirit,” said Krystal Fears. “This event was the perfect opportunity and was way more than I expected.”
Santa ended the evening with a “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” but the holiday season at Camp Humphreys has only just begun.