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NEWS | Dec. 11, 2014

Naval Weapons Station celebrates annual tree lighting ceremony

By Senior Airman Melissa Goslin 1st Combat Camera Squadron

The Joint Base Charleston Naval Weapon Station tree lighting ceremony took place Dec. 4, 2014.

This was the third tree lighting ceremony since Charleston became a Joint Base in October 2010. The night prior, the air base held their 25th annual tree lighting in spirit of their long standing tradition.

"The tree ceremony kicks off the holiday season and gets everyone in the spirit," said Laura Abell, 628th Force Support Squadron marketing director. "It's important to spend time with family and friends to think about our folks that are not with us during the holidays."

The ceremony began at 5:30 p.m. with an invocation from the Chaplain. It then followed by remarks from Navy Capt. Timothy Sparks, Joint Base Charleston deputy commander. 

Children from the youth Center sang carols when Santa showed up on a fire truck and surprised them. Once it was time for the big event, Sparks called on a child to light the tree.

"One of the most difficult times for a military family is the holiday season," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Valenca, 628th Mission Support Group superintendent. "For many this is their first time away from the homes they grew up in and the families they have known their whole lives.  By doing base tree lighting ceremonies and other holiday activities we try to build new traditions and establish new family bonds with their local extended family.  These are traditions their children will be able to grow up with and enjoy.  Besides, what child doesn't enjoy the excitement of seeing Santa pull up on a fire engine and watching as the huge tree lights up for the first time?"     

Hot cocoa, cider, cupcakes and cookies were provided from various sponsors around base including Heritage Trust, Santee Cooper, South Carolina Federal and Balfour Beatty Housing office.

"It is quite a community effort to make all this happen," Abell said. "We love what we do here and making an impact on families."