Hello Santa!

AAvelyn Crounk is mesmerized by Santa during the Enlisted Spouses' Club's annual Children's Holiday Party on Saturday at Pershing Hill Elementary School. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr.)

Spirited celebration: ESC Children’s Holiday Party draws more than 1,000

The Grinch could not steal the holiday spirit at the Enlisted Spouses’ Club’s annual Children’s Holiday Party on Saturday afternoon.

Although the nemesis of Christmas tried to rattle the Fort Meade families who stood on line at Pershing Hill Elementary School to receive a free Christmas tree, he was unsuccessful.

The Grinch tried to steal winter hats but a group of superheroes, including Batman, Ironman and Superman, whisked him away so Santa Claus could make his grand entrance aboard a Fort Meade firetruck at noon.

Mavi Conner, vice president of ESC and chairperson of the event, said the Grinch’s shenanigans could not derail the purpose of the holiday party, which has become a Fort Meade tradition over the past decade.

“It’s important to us to bring a sense of community, family and unity to keep the tradition going every year,” Conner said.

The ESC strives to “meet the needs of the community” through its scholarship program and annual spring installation clean-up to support military families and their quality of life at Fort Meade.

“We are happy to do this,” Conner said. “To see a kid’s smile when they see Santa — that’s priceless.”

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The highlight of three-hour event was a giveaway of live Christmas trees from Trees for Troops to the first 65 families who arrived at the party.

“There’s always a need for help at this time of the year,” Conner said. “There are families who don’t have the means to have a good Christmas. We want to make the holiday better for them.”

More than 1,000 people attended the four-hour event, which featured games, face painting, refreshments and a photographer to take photos with Santa and the superheroes.

The Officers’ Spouses’ Club donated $200 so the club could purchase materials for arts and crafts projects at the party.

Lisa Rickard, wife of Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard, and Patricia Forbes, wife of Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodwell L. Forbes, helped children design superhero masks and Santa keys.

Conner said the response to the party on social media has been “great.”

One military spouse posted a message on the ESC Facebook page that the party helped her family deal with the difficulties of deployment.

“That’s the purpose,” Conner said.

By Lisa R. Rhodes, Staff Writer

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