MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The sounds of laughter, conversation and squeals of joy from children could be heard reverberating throughout the Geottge Memorial Field House aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, during the Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune, Holiday Jubilee Dec. 8.
The field house was transformed from a respectable basketball court and stadium into a stately dining and socializing center. Red and white streamers fluttered overhead near the entrance and surrounding the stage were plants full of holiday décor. Music and delicious smells filled the building and the sounds of laughter added to the joyous occasion.
“We’ve been hosting this since I first became the (Marine Corps Community Services) coordinator for Headquarters and Support Battalion in 2002,” said Heidi Anastasia, the MCCS coordinator for Headquarters and Support Battalion. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work to make this happen and just standing here looking at all the bright and smiling faces definitely made it worth it.”
The festivities began as soon as someone stepped inside the field house; each person received a ticket which made them eligible for door prizes held every 15 to 30 minutes. The prizes included a flat screen TV, IPod, Xbox 360 and many other electronics.
For families with children, face painters, animal balloon artists and even video games were available. Children walked away with reindeer, fishing poles, dogs and even swords made entirely from balloons and on some of their faces whiskers, sunflowers and other decorations adorned their bright and smiling faces.
Roughly 30 minutes into the festivities, the man of the month, Saint Nick, made an appearance. As he maneuvered his way between tables and throngs of Marines, he stopped to shake hands, give warm hugs and interact with the children, many of whom were eager to tell him that they have been behaving for the past weeks and what they wanted to find under the Christmas tree.
After the crowd had grown to a respectable size, the food was brought out, a short prayer was said and service members and their families started lining up to feast on delicious ham, vegetables, mashed potatoes pies and a variety of drinks.
While everyone ate, they were also presented with a show given by Gabriel Holmes, a hypnotist who picked out volunteers from the crowd. While some of the volunteers were skeptical, they were soon dancing to the tune of the hypnotist’s voice. While many people are conscious about how they present themselves in public, all of that was thrown out the window as men and women pretended to flex and put on their best body building pose or pretended to drive a car.
“The goal of this event was to build morale, give the families of Headquarters and Support Battalion something to do and show them we care about them,” said Anastasia.
As the festivity drew to a close, families went home with smiles on their faces and worn out kids trailing behind or cradled in a parents’ arms. Marines who lived in the barracks walked back to their rooms with a full stomach, happy memories and a boosted morale.
“I first heard about this event during our muster when my command passed this on,” said Lance Cpl. Wilnashon Pillows, a separations clerk with Company A, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune. “I decided to come to show support and because four of my friends from the barracks wanted to be here as well. Overall, I think it was a great event and the meal felt like an early Christmas dinner.”