TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii -- The 3rd Annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Christmas Party for the NICU graduates filled Tripler Army Medical Center with holiday cheer Dec. 11, here.

The NICU at Tripler supports the entire Pacific region's Department of Defense beneficiaries, to include all branches of service.

This year over 180 graduates RSVPed to the event.

Nicole Tate, family member whose husband, Spc. Jonathan Tate, is assigned to 556 Signal Co, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, brought her daughter Brooklyn, who is a Tripler NICU graduate and her older sister, Alexis, to the holiday party. She said she likes the idea of the holiday party.

"It is nice to see all the nurses who cared for my daughter again," said Tate. "Also, when you have spent a lot of time in the NICU, you meet other parents who are going though similar experiences and it is nice to be able to see them and catch up."

For the NICU nurses, the party is something they have come to look forward to all year.

"In a lot of ways the party is more for the NICU staff," said Patricia Wilhelm, nurse manager, NICU, TAMC. "They love being able to see the children they have cared for. To see how far they have come since they graduated the NICU is a special treat."

The event had live entertainment for all to enjoy.

Kimo Kahoano, who is well known for being the master of cere-monies at the Merry Monarch festival and Hawaii Stars competition, volunteered to act as master of ceremonies for the holiday party, while Kamuela Kahoano, a Na Hoku Hano Hano Music Award Winner for 2011, volunteered his time to provide live music. Leilani Kapuhu-Marino, TAMC NICU RN, also shared a hula presentation.

Of course, no holiday party is complete without a visit from Santa Claus.

This year all of Santa's toys were donated from the efforts of Patti Frobe, whose husband, Maj. William Frobe, is assigned to Defense Information Systems Agency-Pacific. She set up collections points for gifts at Wheeler Army Airfield, DISA Pacific Headquarters, and the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base to give to the graduates as well as their siblings at the event.

"I was unsure of how to volunteer, but I knew I wanted too," said Frobe. "Someone at Army Community Services recommended the NICU Reunion to me and I tracked down Leona Bourcier, (who helped coordinate the event). After that, I just put boxes out and people just kept donating."

Frobe is happy that she dedicated her time to this event because it offers something that other programs don't.

"A lot of times when you donate, you don't get to see where it goes or ends up," Frobe said. "It is special to be a part of this and see all the children open their gifts."