Baumholder tree lighting brings children together

Story and photo illustration by Ignacio “Iggy” Rubalcava
U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder Public Affairs

There’s more to lighting a Christmas tree on Baumholder than just pulling a switch. The U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 6 included musical performances by children from the U.S. and German communities, the first of which was Sarah Holliday. She braved the cold and entertained the crowd with her rendition of “Silent Night,” just moments before Santa made his appearance on a shiny red fire truck in front of the Rheinlander Community Club.

Traditionally, Santa is assisted in lighting the Christmas tree by two students, one from Smith Elementary School and another from Wetzel Elementary School.

This year, Rowe Tampus from Smith Elementary and Alondra Orsini from Wetzel Elementary were chosen to assist Santa. Orsini and Tampus were selected to assist because of their outstanding academic achievement.

James Chen, USAG Baumholder deputy to the garrison commander, and Master Sgt. Ronald Caswell, noncommissioned officer in charge of the USAG Baumholder Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, joined Santa and the children in the tree lighting.

On the count of three they all pulled the switch and hundreds of lights came to life on the 35-foot Christmas tree in front of the Rheinlander Community Club.

His job done, Santa made his way into the club with dozens of guests following in his wake. Musical performances by students from the Smith and Wetzel Elementary Schools and the Baumholder Middle/High School entertained the guests while Santa listened to the many Christmas requests from the Children.

Special guests for the evening were the first grade students from the German elementary school who performed several holiday favorites in German and English.

“Performing for the American community was a wonderful experience for the children,” said Ursula Lambur, a German elementary school teacher. “The children do not really get an opportunity to experience the American way of life and traditions so being a part of the American celebration was an excellent learning experience for them. They all enjoyed the evening and we hope to continue interacting with the American community.”

The entertainment continued with Natasha Torres signing “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Mindy Malenius then performed a piano solo and was followed with a duet by Nicole and Camille Torres. Natasha returned to perform a duet with her sister Nicole Torres.

There were also solo performances by Rachel Holliday, Christen Holliday and Shannon Liederitz.

After the celebration, Business and Recreation Division Chief Jacqui Haggerty said, “It was such a pleasure to work with so many wonderful professionals who knew their ‘role to play’ and executed that role brilliantly. The feedback from participants and command has been nothing but complimentary — and the credit for that goes directly to each and every person involved in making this event such a rousing success.”