PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Dec. 15, 2022) — Not only did the weather report not look good for the Presidio of Monterey’s Holiday Fun Run on Dec. 10, but the weather itself did not look good. It was spitting rain and gusts of wind blew ominously.
Santa had to hold down the run’s inflatable start-finish line so it wouldn’t blow away, and the race director looked nervous.
In true military fashion, however, more than 150 runners showed up, showing their holiday spirit dressed in ugly sweaters, elf attire and Santa hats galore. That’s when the holiday magic happened. It did not rain. The wind abated. The sun came out a little. Runners had fun. The event captured the holiday spirit that has pervaded the installation this holiday season.
Better Opportunities for Single Service Members sponsored this year’s tree lighting at the Hobson Recreation Center on Dec. 2 with Col. Sam Kline and Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Traylor, the U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey command team, in attendance.
“Remember what this season really means,” Kline told the crowd. “It’s a symbol of togetherness, of unity, of hope, of friendship.”
Most service members at PoM are students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, and they hail from all branches of the military. Many attended the tree lighting, and Kline told them to look out for one another during the upcoming holiday break.
“If you haven’t done so already, take a phone number from your battle buddy,” Kline said. “Check in on them once in a while. Give them a little phone call or send a text. ‘Hey, how are you doing? Is everything OK?’ Because that’s what families do, we look out for each other, and we’re all part of the [Department of Defense] family.”
Hugo Ambriz Tena, BOSS advisor, said he always wants service members to think of the Hobson as their home away from home, and it will be open throughout block leave so service members will always have a place to go.
BOSS officials decided to host the tree lighting because it is a big morale booster, Ambriz Tena said. “The fact that we were able to do something small but make it so meaningful is just awesome for us,” he said.
The Presidio community also celebrated the holidays by decorating a lot of cookies.
On Dec. 9, BOSS and the PoM Family Advocacy Program teamed up to host the “Holiday Cookie Decorating” event at the recreation center. More than 50 service members attended, and Jillian Santillanez victim advocate with PoM FAP, taught them holiday stress relief techniques before they started decorating cookies.
Then, on Dec. 13, the PoM New Parent Support Program hosted a special “Holiday Cookie Decorating” playgroup at the Stilwell Community Center at Ord Military Community. The playgroup, for infants through 4-year-old children, meets normally from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. each Tuesday, and the group kept its usual schedule, but the children decorated cookies with frosting and sprinkles instead of their usual activities.
Another holiday favorite was the Winter Expo, where military families picked up free donated stocking stuffers, visited information tables, enjoyed refreshments and made holiday-themed crafts.
Elaine Vrolyks, PoM school liaison officer and event organizer, said the event not only got the community together for fun activities, but it also helped the community at large share their holiday spirit with the military community.
“I know I tell every parent as they’re walking through the toys that these come from [the community],” Vrolyks said. “It just shows how the community supports military families. It’s amazing the amount of toys we get.”
PoM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has several holiday block leave events scheduled for service members. Find a complete list at https://presidio.armymwr.com/calendar/event/holiday-block-leave-events/5813177/74960