News: NSW Foundation hosts community holiday party
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Rockwell-Pate
Naval Special Warfare Group ONE Public Affairs
CORONADO, Calif. – The Naval Special Warfare Foundation hosted its annual free NSW Holiday Party, Dec. 4, at Special Boat Team Twelve’s hanger at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. More than 2,000 NSW community members crowded the hanger for the chance to win prizes, meet San Diego Padres baseball players, and see Santa Claus.
“This event is bigger than it has been in any years past,” said Jaci Wenmem, the NSW Foundation Holiday Party co-chair. “Last year, our attendance was 1,800 and this year it’s over 2,500. We have a number of teams who are deployed and coming back, so we are tickled pink that we have so many people coming to this event. It’s truly amazing and beyond what we were expecting.”
The event kicked off with the arrival of Santa Claus, who was in a slightly different sleigh – a Navy SH-60S helicopter. After Santa’s arrival, children and parents alike began to take part in the multitude of games and attractions available, including bounce houses, slides, rock climbing, cookie decorating, and a number of games for the younger participants. Holiday party attendees were even able to enjoy a little artificial snow – something rarely experienced in San Diego.
“The event this year is great,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ron Arellano, the Naval Special Warfare Group One tactical information operations officer and Global Force manager. “It’s well organized and there are a lot more activities for the kids than last year. All in all, it’s a great time for us.”
As an additional surprise for the attendees, three members of the San Diego Padres baseball team came to the event. Nick Hundley, Mark Kotsay, and Will Venable spent more than three hours meeting, taking photos with, and signing autographs for NSW families. “This is a great opportunity to do anything we can for the great sailors who sacrifice everything for us,” said Hundley, the Padres starting catcher. “This is easily the least that we can do to help brighten their day or put a smile on the kids’ faces.”
Even though Hundley plays sports on some of the biggest stages in the country, he said he was surprised by the size of the event. “It was unbelievable seeing all the activities for the kids and the Christmas spirit going around.”
Experiencing his own ‘Christmas cheer’, Naval Special Warfare Commander, Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, took time to address the families in attendance and wish them a happy and safe holiday season.
“First of all, I would like to say thank you for your service. Your work at Naval Special Warfare is tremendous, your reputation is superb, and that is because you do such an incredible job. Please, make sure you take time with your family for leave or for rest. Take advantage of the time the Navy gives you to recharge your batteries and take care of yourself. What we need in the long term is a sustainable, well-supported, rested force. Again, thank you for your service. Take some time off, recharge your batteries, and have a great holiday season.”