By Randy Murray, Fort Stewart Public AffairsDecember 17, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga. -Nearly 350 Family Members, mostly children, bundled up against the cold night air for this year's Holiday Hayride at Corkan Family Recreation Center, Dec. 11.
Tractor-drawn wagons loaded with bales of hay carried wind-chilled passengers on a scenic tour of Christmas lights around Fort Stewart, but according to Corkan director Roni Stevens, all Corkan facilities were open with discount rates.
"We had people playing mini-golf, wall climbing, laser tag - everything," she said, acknowledging the cold weather probably affected the number of folks coming to the annual event, but said those hardy souls who did come braved the cold like it didn't bother them.
Christmas lights illuminated Cypress Creek Mini-Golf, Treehouse and the Rec Center, as well as Stewart Lanes. Inside the Rec Center, hot cocoa was available and in high demand. Outside, in one corner of the Stewart Lanes parking lot, kids gathered around an outdoor fireplace to roast marsh mallows. Phoenix Riesner, 4, didn't like the sweet, sponging treat, but he said he enjoyed "burning them" for his mom, Sarah Riesner, and sister, Madeline, 6.
As Families waited in line for the hayride to begin, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation employees dressed as reindeer and bowling pin characters entertained children and adults. Cathy McRae, wife of Sgt. Maj. Robert McRae, FMWR, could not resist squeezing Rudolph's red nose.
With much anticipation by shivering guests, the event finally got underway at 6 p.m. with the fire truck arrival of Santa Claus, who walked down the line of screaming children, shaking hands and giving hugs.
With these preliminaries out of the way, the tractors moved forward, and parents helped their little Eskimos board the wagon and take a seat on the hay. Blankets were available from FMWR employees, which helped fend off the icy wind as their loaded wagon moved down Gulick Avenue to begin their Christmas light tour.
Hunter Army Airfield's Holiday Hayride was postponed due to severe weather. It was re-scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Hallstrom Lake Recreation Area from 5-8 p.m. Cost is $5 per Family for the hayride, but all FMWR facilities will be open at discount prices.