By Mike Egami, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsDecember 8, 2009
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Brig. Gen. John E. Seward, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army-Pacific, will be the guest speaker at the annual "Community Holiday Concert and Tree Lighting Ceremony," Dec. 10, 6 p.m., at Palm Circle, here.
The event promotes "neighbors helping neighbors" to foster the relationship between Soldiers, families and the local community. It will officially begin the holiday season for the south community.
The Radford High School color guard will present colors, and the Farrington High School Concert Band will provide holiday cheer and lead the singing of Christmas carols.
A significant part of this holiday event is the award presentation for the top three winners of the Holiday Card Lane contest. The annual competition between organizations residing on the installation promotes unity and challenges the design creativity of each organization.
The 4' x 8' plywood cards are displayed along Chapel Field across from Richardson Theatre. Each entry is judged on craftsmanship, artistic qualities, expressiveness of the message and overall appearance.
"The annual 'Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony and Concert and Holiday Card Lane' are annual events that began in the mid-1990s," said Mark Young, director, U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu South community. "This tradition provides our community with a wonderful opportunity to usher in the holiday season to our installations."
Each year, a distinguished guest is chosen to be the holiday tree lighter. This year, 11 year-old Kyle Michael Bender, son of retired Lt. Col. Michael Bender and retired Lt. Col. Christina Voisinet Bender, is the tree lighter. Kyle is a sixth-grade student at Shafter Elementary School, and he is the current student body president.
With a push of a giant candy cane lever, Kyle will light up the tree and officially begin the holiday season.
The arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus follows the tree lighting and caroling. After parading Palm Circle, Santa will then settle in under its gazebo lights to greet children and take photos.
Event parking will be available; however, no pets, except service animals, are authorized.
In the event of a rain out, the event will relocate to the Hale Ikena Conference Center.