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NEWS | Nov. 18, 2016

JBSA ushers in holiday season with tree-lighting ceremonies

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

Active-duty members and their families, retirees and Department of Defense civilians will be able to get into the Christmas spirit next week with tree-lighting ceremonies and activities to be held at Joint Base San Antonio locations.

JBSA-Lackland will kickoff the Christmas festivities with a tree lighting ceremony from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday outside the Gateway Club. Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander, and Col. Roy Collins, 37th Training Wing commander, will host the ceremony and provide opening remarks. The U.S. Air Force Band of the West will perform prior to and after the tree lighting. The event includes an appearance from Santa Claus, with children and adults getting the opportunity to tell Santa Claus what they want for Christmas and to get their pictures taken with him.

Refreshments, including drinks and cookies, will be served.

The tree-lighting ceremony marks the beginning of the Christmas season at the installation, Capt. Wade Burkett, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron director of operations at JBSA-Lackland, said.

JBSA-Randolph will celebrate the Christmas season from 6-10 p.m. Thursday by turning on the tree lights at Washington Circle, in front of the Taj Mahal, building 100. Prior to the tree lighting, the Randolph High School band will perform starting at 5:30 p.m., and the Randolph Elementary School choir will sing Christmas songs.

Tech Sgt. Taylor Hydrick, JBSA-Fire Emergency Services NCO in charge of logistics, will emcee the tree-lighting ceremony,  with remarks from Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, and Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander.

Second Lt. Timothy Pereira, JBSA-Randolph Company Grade Officers Council community service coordinator, said children at the event will be able to write letters to Santa Claus, sit on his lap and take pictures with him.

In addition, children will be able to decorate a gingerbread man and eat it, Pereira said.

Pereira said every member of the JBSA community is welcome to attend the tree-lighting ceremony and participate in the activities following the ceremony.

“It is a fun activity for the whole JBSA community,” he said. “Anybody who likes the holidays will have a great time.”

The tree lighting at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston will be from 6:30-9 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Main Post flagpole, on the corner of Taylor and Stanley roads. Lt. Col. Kenneth Haftorson, 502nd Force Support Group deputy garrison chaplain, will give the blessing before the tree is lighted.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) commander, will give the opening remarks. He will be introduced by Pringle. After his remarks, Buchanan will be joined by five children who have a parent who is being deployed and will assist him in turning on the tree lights.

After the tree is lit, Santa Claus will arrive on a fire truck provided by the 502nd CES. Santa Claus will be accompanied by Mrs. Claus and two elves who will be available for pictures with children and adults.

Abbie Pollard, 502nd Force Support Squadron Community Programs and Partnership specialist, said the event will include a snow slide with inflatable boards, a hayride for children and adults, a tent with activities for children and a screen that will show Christmas movies.

“It’s a fun event to get people into the spirit of Christmas,” Pollard said. “People have small snowball fights and slide down the snow slide. There’s things for adults and children, and no matter how old you are, you want a picture with Santa Claus.”

There will be appearances by Ethel, a mule, and Lester, a donkey, from the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Equestrian Center, who will be dressed up as elves for children and adults to take pictures with them, and an appearance from the Grinch.

Free cookies and hot cocoa will be provided by JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Marketing, and Starbucks will be serving free coffee.
The 323rd Army Band will play Christmas music before the tree lighting and OMG Sounds will provide Christmas music during the rest of the event.