MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Upward of 1,000 Marines, sailors and their family members packed the station theater, Dec. 2, for the lighting of Cherry Point’s official Christmas tree at this year’s Marine Corps Community Services Family Christmas Event.
The event’s theme was based on the 2004 Christmas movie, “The Polar Express,” which tells a story about an adventurous Christmas Eve train ride some boys and girls have in route to the North Pole, where they hope to visit Santa Claus.
The event started with the movie when the curtains came up. The sounds of a train engine echoed through the theater before a jolly guest made an appearance from behind a model train on the stage.
“We had a crazy idea the big guy was going to be here,” said Lance Cpl. Timothy A. Loper, who brought his wife and daughter to the event. “My daughter almost lost her mind when she saw Santa,” added Loper, who is a gunner with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion.
The Loper family also helped Santa and Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, the station commanding officer, light the Christmas tree.
Mrs. Claus, Teresa H. Allen, was also on hand to take notice of all the children’s gift requests.
“It’s just wonderful,” said Allen, who is the education services officer for the air station. “I love the children and being able to interact with the families.”
The focus was on the families explained Vera Campbell, the director of Marine and Family Services for MCCS here.
“We wanted to thank and show them our appreciation for everything they do for us,” Campbell added.
The free event lasted about three hours and helped lift the holiday spirits for those who may not be able to make it home this year.
“It was nice that the station was able to do this,” Loper said, “because we can’t always make it home during the holidays.”
Campbell said the sponsors of the event were very generous and accounted for several prizes that were given out by Santa and Zimmerman.
“The event has grown bigger and bigger each year,” Campbell said.
Zimmerman concluded that he hopes everybody has a safe and happy holiday season.