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JBSA News
NEWS | Nov. 24, 2010

Randolph's holiday season officially kicks off next week

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

A Randolph holiday tradition continues next week, but with a few changes.

The annual tree-lighting ceremony, planned for Wednesday in Washington Circle, will feature a new host organization as well as the imprint of Randolph's new wing leadership.

"This year the 902nd Mission Support Group commander, Col. Scott Peel, will serve as host," said 1st Lt. Manuel Ramirez, Randolph Company Grade Officers Council president. In the past, the 12th Flying Training Wing served as host organization.

Col. Robert Bridgford, 502nd Air Base Wing vice commander, will represent Joint Base San Antonio.

Organizers, representatives of the Randolph CGO Council, are hopeful favorable weather conditions will prevail this year after heavy rainfall caused them to move last year's ceremony indoors to the base theater.

Regardless of the weather outside, the spirit of the event will remain constant, Lieutenant Ramirez said.

"The tree-lighting ceremony sets the mood for this time of year," he said. "The event tells us we're getting to the part of the year where getting together as a family is so important. We're a big family here, and we all need to take care of each other."

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with a reception for distinguished visitors, followed by the ceremony at 5:30 p.m., which will feature the singing of the national anthem by 2010 Randolph Idol Nadia Gomez, music by the Converse Judson High School Choir and the arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck.

The defining moment of the event will occur when Colonel Peel flips the switch to turn on the holiday lights.

Later, children will be able to play on a bouncy castle, take part in arts and crafts activities and meet Santa Claus in the rotunda of the Taj Mahal, where refreshments will be served.

Lieutenant Ramirez said some 45 volunteers from active-duty organizations are involved in this year's tree-lighting ceremony, handling tasks such as set-up and tear-down, planning children's activities, ensuring safety and taking care of decorations, refreshments and the distinguished visitor reception.

"Preparing for the tree-lighting ceremony involves a lot of work and man-hours," he said.

The event is funded through donations from various organizations on base, including the CGO Council, which holds a variety of fund-raising activities throughout the year.

Lieutenant Ramirez, who handled publicity for last year's event, said it is gratifying to witness the ceremony.

"It was nice to see how happy all the kids were," he said. "All their faces were glowing when they saw the tree and they were all crazy about seeing Santa. It was very rewarding."