JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Every year, three trees are decorated and lit to celebrate the holiday season at Joint Base San Antonio, but few people know who is behind the scenes making sure each ornament is in the right place.
Rosa Padin, the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron secretary, has been personally hand-making the ornaments and orchestrating the decoration of the JBSA trees for the past four years in addition to performing her typical duties.
“Sometimes, I’m answering the phone and trying to make some ornaments myself at the same time,” Padin said.
Padin meticulously decorates her office space for each holiday, which was noted by her director, who originally approached Padin with a request to decorate a Christmas tree four years ago. At the time, she did not realize the director was referencing the 35-foot tree located at JBSA-Randolph, but the challenge quickly evolved into a holiday tradition.
“I had to get really creative, really fast. We only had three days to buy the tree, get all of the decorations and have it ready for the ceremony," Padin said. "That was a big task, and that’s how it all started. And since then, I have been doing it for the past four years, and I love it. Every year gets better.”
This year, Padin has been working for several weeks to ensure the trees are ready for the lighting ceremonies in the first week of December.
Before the decorating begins, Padin plans each tree from top to bottom and decides on a different theme for each tree based on their surroundings. She then must travel throughout the city to gather supplies while the electricians set up the lights. Then each tree will require approximately three days to fully decorate with the placing of the 60-foot tree skirts taking the longest.
The process requires a lot of time, work and coordination, but Padin hopes to continue the tradition for many years.
"I love decorating, and I love to see the faces of the people after it is finished. That’s what it is all about, making people happy," Padin said.