MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Preparing for the holidays?
For those staying local, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River are providing many opportunities for holiday cheer with a variety of events and celebrations over the next few weeks.
2nd Marine Division Band will welcome the holiday with the sounds of the season, Saturday.
“We always have a good crowds who come and enjoy the concert,” said Charlie Miller, manager of the Base Theater.
The free concert will feature traditional holiday music. “They are going to have a good time kicking off the holiday season,” said Miller, a native of Cameron, West Virginia.
Marine Corps Air Station New River is scheduled to welcome the season by burning some calories with the Jingle Bell Fun Walk/Run, where runners fill a stocking throughout the 1.5 mile course and complete activities.
The fun run leads to MCAS New River’s Tree Lighting at the Officers’ Club, a free event where guests can join Santa Claus and enjoy refreshments, crafts, face painting, train rides and hayrides.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mike Smith, the Tree Lighting coordinator. “It’s a time for camaraderie for our community. It’s a chance to have a good time, get together, relax and get ready for the holiday season.”
Tarawa Terrace Community Center is scheduled to host another Holiday Tree Lighting, where families can watch a movie, see a performance by Dance with Me Academy and enjoy singalong tunes.
“The holidays are a great time to slow down and enjoy each other,” said Victoria Brown, a recreation specialist with the Tarawa Terrace Community Center.
Participants can help decorate a hero tree, which honors those who serve across the military with decorations created or brought in by military families. Santa Claus will be joined by Mrs. Claus for family and pet photos during the Tarawa Terrace Holiday Tree Lighting.
Families can spend time with Old Saint Nick at the SNCO Club’s Breakfast with Santa, Sunday and the PJ Party with Santa, scheduled Dec. 14 and 15.
The Marine Corps’ own Father Christmas will also visit troops and their families. Gunny Claus is scheduled to take part in the Kids Candy Cane Camp at the Tarawa Terrace Community Center, Dec. 4.
Gunny Claus will spend time with families enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program at the Russell Marine and Family Center Dec. 18 and at the New River Sports Center as 4,000, Dec. 20.
“The Gunny Claus (EFMP) event is planned to ensure that children who are medically fragile are not rushed and have special one-on-one time with Gunny Claus,” said Amy Van de Motter, the program manager of the Exceptional Family Member Program. “For a parent who has struggled to manage a picture of their child with Santa due to the complex nature of their medical needs, our Gunny Claus event may offer a rare chance for a parent to set aside concern about long lines or feeling rushed.”
Gunny Claus’ visit is always a popular event that families look forward to attending, Van de Motter said.
“Gunny Claus is sensitive to children with special needs and has such a welcoming way about him,” added Van de Motter, who calls Wilmington, North Carolina, her home. “We expect a great turnout again this year.”
If families are looking for an outing, the Holiday Lights Hayride and Dinner at Mike’s Farm, hosted by the community center, will take guests through a hayride and a dinner in Beulaville, a neighboring town.
“It’s amazing,” said Brown, a native of Coconut Creek, Florida. “It’s a fun, family event with a home cooked meal without the hassle of cooking it yourself.”
The Exceptional Family Member Program welcomes enrolled families and other members of the military community to enjoy the Festival of Lights at Mike’s Farm, Friday.
“The holiday-themed hayride is a festive way for families to get together, see holiday lights and decorations, and socialize with each other,” said Van de Motter. “This event provides an opportunity for family members with exceptional needs to access an activity that they might not otherwise feel comfortable attending. There will be assistance available for folks with motor difficulties, sensory issues and difficulty standing in line.”
When families have returned from their outings they can come home to homemade decorations and gifts they create during the Christmas Craft Workshop at the Harriotte B. Smith Library, Dec. 9. Crafts are geared for children 3 years old and up, so little ones can share gifts with their families.
Older kids can also celebrate at the library with the upcoming Teen Christmas Party, where teens can show off the most horrible Christmas sweater they can find, for a chance to win a contest, and enjoy movies and video games, Dec. 12.
Those looking for recreation with their Christmas merriment can have a bowling match during the various Cocoa and Cookie Bowl events, where bowlers can decorate cookies in between hitting the pins at Camp Lejeune’s Bonnyman Bowling Center, Dec. 22, 23, 29 and 30. Hunters can string up their bows during the Holiday Cheer 3D Archery Shoot, Dec. 6. While Rudolph may not appear as a target, participants can still sight in on bears, deer, dinosaurs, alligators, pigs, elk, moose, rabbits, squirrels and other game.
“Outdoor activities are a cost-effective way to create family adventures that are fun for all ages,” said Robert Scozzari, the supervisory recreation specialist with Leisure Business Operations Branch. “This particular event introduces shooters to new experiences which can be carried into adulthood.” Make sure to call ahead, most events require preregistration.
For more information about these and other upcoming events, visit www. mccslejeune-newriver. com/holiday.