Fort Bragg events celebrate troops, families and local community

13 01 Paratrooper Santa 2The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to change holiday plans this year, canceling traditional events such as shows, light displays and parades. Although modifications were needed, not even a pandemic could keep soldiers and families on Fort Bragg from continuing some holiday traditions this year.

The 20-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree is lit up on the Main Post Parade Field for families to view and enjoy, something the installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation department is proud to display.

“MWR is really big about the soldiers and their families so this tree symbolizes a big part of that and enjoying the spirit of holidays in general and bringing back kind of the family atmosphere to the garrison to celebrate,” said Keegan McDonald, event coordinator for Fort Bragg Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the tree lighting was a virtual event this year, but people can still come to the Main Post Parade Field where the tree will be all holiday season, to look at it and take pictures, he said.

Fort Bragg’s Trees for Troops event is set to take place at the Smith Lake Recreation Center on Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon.

The event will give out free Christmas trees — one per family to activity duty personnel in the rank of E-6 and below with a valid DOD ID card and a voucher. Vouchers were handed out at the Leisure Travel Services office.

Trees will be passed out to non-voucher holders after 10 a.m. based on availability. For more information, soldiers can contact the BOSS office at 910-643-4569 or

The heart of what the garrison does is take care of soldiers and their families, said James Day, DFMWR’s Outdoor Recreation branch manager.

“Every year, we host the Trees for Troops event in which Christmas trees are donated to our soldiers,” Day said. “This year 300 trees will be provided to soldiers and families to enjoy during the holiday season. Our single soldiers with the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program will distribute them at the Smith Lake Recreation Area.”

Some of the other upcoming holiday events at Fort Bragg are the Holiday Concert, All American Presents from Paratroopers and a free meal give-away for paratroopers and their families, said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, Public Affairs Officer for the 82nd Airborne Division.

The 82nd Band and Chorus Holiday Drive-In Concert will be held on Pike Field Dec. 17, with bands playing a variety of Christmas music. The event is free.

“Each year we do a holiday concert for our families, this year due to COVID it will be a drive-up event,” Burns said. “We are doing things a little bit different, we are moving to Pike Field … and families will be able to enjoy the concert from the comfort of their own car or a small area around their car, to help prevent the spread of COVID.”

Pike Field is a large and open area on post that can accommodate vehicles for the concert, Burns said. The concert will be an hour long show and a great opportunity for families to come together and enjoy
some music.

“I would say this concert is important to the soldiers here in the Division, it's been a really tough year, a lot of soldiers are deployed, and their families are still here,” Burns said. “It’s important for people to get together and celebrate the holidays and it’s a great time, really fun, and a high quality professional level concert.”

The members of the 82nd Airborne Association will host a meal give-away for paratroopers and families on Dec. 11, at the All-American Chapel. For more information on times visit www.facebook.com/287901225386/posts/10164689157945387/

The association is made up of veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division and their families. They come together every year and provide meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas for service members, Burns said.

All American Presents from Paratroopers is an annual toy drive that gives paratroopers an opportunity to give back to Fort Bragg’s local communities, Burns said.

“Every year, paratroopers come out and donate a toy for an opportunity to jump from a helicopter and earn foreign jump wings,” he said. “The only requirement is they donate a toy.”

Events like these are what makes the season special and lets the families know they are a part of the airborne legacy,
Burns said.

(Pictured above) The Presents from Paratroopers toy drive is an annual event where soldiers donate toys to participate in an airborne jump to earn foreign jump wings. This year's event saw about 1,500 toys donated for local families in need. (Below) Soldiers help prepare food bags to be donated to families in need. (Photos courtesy 82nd Airborne Division PAO)

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Village Baptist Church invites all to Christmas Drive-Thru

12 Village 5The typical hustle and bustle of the holiday season is muted this year. Family plans and holiday outings have crumbled due to the pandemic. Despite it all, The Village Baptist Church invites the people of Cumberland County to experience the joy of Christmas through a social-distancing-friendly drive-thru event Dec. 11-13.

Chris Ferger, the Pastor of Worship and Arts at The Village, said that the church’s Easter production was cancelled due to COVID-19, so he was looking for opportunities to still celebrate the Christmas holiday.

“I thought the best way to allow people to see and experience the story of Christmas in a safe, COVID-free environment is to have a drive-thru Christmas,” he explained.
“I used to do something similar years ago for Easter and I just thought it would be a great idea. So, we put together a team that could pull it off.”

Organizing a Christmas drive-thru event is no easy feat, but with the help of hundreds of volunteers since April participating in musical recordings, set design, acting, guiding traffic, hospitality, advertising, animal management and more, The Village anticipates an unforgettable experience.

Keeping in line with the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines and local ordinances and mandates, The Village Choir and orchestra has rehearsed virtually and in venues that allow for social distancing to prepare the recorded music for the event. The music and drama will be available through the Village Baptist Church App or with a CD available as you enter.

“(Attendees) will be immersed in eight scenes that retell the Christmas story through the eyes of a young shepherd all while listening to music recorded by The Village Choir and Orchestra,” Ferger said.

Attendees can expect to see live actors and animals, hear Christmas tunes and narration, and experience the anticipation of Christ’s birth with period-accurate clothing and carefully crafted sets. Don’t be shy about taking pictures and videos. The Village would love to see your pictures on social media with the hashtag #ChristmasatTheVillage.

In a year that has divided so many people both physically and ideologically, The Village uses their love of Jesus to unify the community. “Our community desires the joy and peace that only the true story of Christmas can bring now more than ever,” Ferger said. “People are tired of being cooped up in their homes and are ready to go somewhere that will help them feel the joy of the season. We want people to feel safe as they bring their family.”

The Christmas Drive Thru at The Village will take place at 906 S. McPherson Church Rd. and will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 11-13. The event is free.

Travelling through all of the scenes will take approximately 20 minutes. Cars, people movers and vans are welcome, but no bicycles, pedestrians or buses will be permitted for the safety of the actors.

For more information about The Village visit https://thevillagebc.church/

Park activities scheduled

10 lake rim parkFayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation offers a variety of locations to enjoy the great outdoors. There are a number of activities schedueld for the month of December.

Archery Clinic — Dec. 5, noon to 3 p.m., $5, Ages 8+
This class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use compound bows as they learn the basics of archery to include safety, proper stance and follow through. Adults are welcome too. Registration is ongoing, but space is limited.

Mazarick Park Kayak Tour —Dec. 5, 10 to 11:30 a.m., $15, Adults and ages 10+
Explore the cypress filled waters of Glenville Lake at Mazarick Park from a kayak. All the equipment and basic instruction for beginners will be provided. This program is offered with special permission from PWC, no private boats are allowed on the lake. Registration is ongoing, but space is limited. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

Clay Play — Dec. 11; 3 to 4 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
Mold it, shape it, create something useful, or just get your hands dirty. Join us for clay play at the park to see what you can fashion out of this moldable, malleable substance. Call to register, space is limited.

Meteor Shower Viewing — Dec. 13; 8 to 10 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
Learn about asteroids, meteorites and comets then head outside to view the Geminids, one of the most impressive meteor showers of the year. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and dress for the weather. This program occurs after park operating hours, please arrive promptly at 8 p.m. so staff can let you in the gate. Call to register, space is limited.

Christmas Scavenger Hunt — Dec. 22, 2 to 4 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
Drop by the park office anytime between 2 and 4 p.m. to pick up a map and loaner compass that will guide you to the lost Christmas presents. Once you have completed the course, return to the office to claim your prize. Call to register beginning Dec. 7.

Year’s End Walk —Dec. 31, 2 to 3 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
Bid farewell to 2020 on this interpretive walk around Lake Rim Park. Get a jump start on two great New Year’s resolutions: to spend more time in nature and to continue learning about the world around you. Call to register beginning Dec. 14, space is limited.

All facilities are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis unless they are reserved.

Contact the park office ar 910-433-1018 to reserve facilities or register for activities. Office hours are Mon. — Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit www.fcpr.us/parks for more information.

Santa is coming to town

13 Santa checking listBreak out those stockings, Christmas trees, and red or green masks — it’s time to enjoy a fun, festive and socially distanced holiday season with a visit to meet Santa. That’s right, Santa Claus is planning his trip down from the North Pole to see his friends in Fayetteville, though it will look a little different from years past.

Santa and his elves have already set up in the Food Court of Cross Creek Mall and will be there through Christmas Eve. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, visits will be no-contact, with families sitting six feet away to ensure proper social distancing. But don’t worry about those Christmas lists. Santa Claus can’t wait to hear what’s on your list and will still be available to talk with little elves-in-training.

Santa will be available for photos during the following days and times:
Monday — Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Eve hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All guests must schedule their visit with Santa using the online reservation platform at https://whereissanta.com/northcarolina/crosscreekmall. You’ll select a date and time, as well as purchase your photo package. Walk-ups will be allowed during the first and last hour of the day, time permitting. All visitors must wear masks before, during and after photos.

Visitors are reminded that some of the usual holiday events are canceled for this year, including pet photos.

Holiday happenings around Fayetteville

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Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some featured activities may change or be canceled. Please check to ensure the event will be held as scheduled.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now the holiday season is officially here. Christmas trees, holiday lights and decorations abound around every corner. But what is there to do? Lots, if one knows where to look. So, grab the keys, get in the car and see the sights.

Ready to see some lights? Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation is proud to announce a COVID-19-safe Christmas in the Park event this season. The holiday lights extravaganza is coming to Arnette Park, 2165 Wilmington Highway Dec. 6-10, 13-17 and 20-22, 6-9 p.m. nightly excluding Fridays and Saturdays. Participants are asked to remain in their vehicles to drive-thru the park to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas. Admission is free for the event. Visit www.fcpr.us.

Each year, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden features Holiday Lights in the Garden, a self-paced holiday lights garden tour through a beautiful garden setting. The lights are featured on weekends Dec. 3-23 from 6-9 p.m. nightly. The whole garden will be lit with lights and transformed into a winter wonderland, featuring Santa Claus, s’mores, entertainment and more. Additionally, CFBG keeps a full calendar of daytime offerings for kids so parents can bring their children for outdoor activities and education. Be sure to check out the new children's garden and learn about plants and animals while spending a day together in nature. Find out more details at www.capefearbg.org.

Another traditional drive-thru favorite is the Lu-Mil Winery Festival of Lights at 438 Suggs-Taylor Rd. in Elizabethtown, just south of Fayetteville. For $10 per person, you can see miles of beautiful lights amid outdoor scenery. The event will be 6-10 p.m. nightly Dec. 17-23 and Dec. 26-28. For more information visit https://lumilvineyard.com

For onstage holiday entertainment, the Gilbert Theater presents "The Carols," a witty musical telling the Carol sisters' story as they struggle to get the town's annual performance of "A Christmas Carol" off the ground. The men are off fighting in the war, but the show must go on! Performances are Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 4-6 and 18-20. Go to https://gilberttheater.com/ to get the scoop.

The Cape Fear Regional Theatre's famous "Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will not be produced this year, but be sure to check out the theater’s new winter camp for ages 8-14, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Go to https://www.cfrt.org/ for more information.

The Rotary Club Annual Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec.12 has been canceled. Not to dampen the holiday season, the Rotary Clubs of Fayetteville are organizing another thrilling event to replace the parade. The members have decided to take Santa on a tour throughout select neighborhoods because, “if the kids can’t see Santa in the parade, why not take Santa to them?” This will hopefully soften the disappointment from the canceled parade.

Following a melted snowman cocoa from The Coffee Cup downtown, make your way to the 1897 Poe House for a historical take on the holidays. The 1897 Poe House will be decorated for Christmas through Jan. 9, 2021. Learn more at www.capefear.ncdcr.gov.

For out-of-town fun, enjoy holiday events a short sleigh ride away over in Lee or Moore counties. The Temple Theater in Sanford is performing the holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 3-20. The ghostly visits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come transform the curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge from greedy and selfish to sympathetic and caring. The classic tale weaves a story showing viewers the importance of kindness and generosity in the true spirit of Christmas. See www.templeshows.com. Lace-up those running shoes, grab some antlers and get ready for Moore County's 14th Annual Reindeer Fun Run Dec. 1-14 this year a virtual event. Register and complete your race at any time during this period. Go to https://reindeerfunrun.com/ for a few pedestrian-friendly course suggestions.

No matter the day, Fayetteville and the surrounding area have many holiday activities for families and singles. Now is the time to start planning the festivities.

This article also appears in the December issue of Womens View magazine.

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01 03 Lu Mil lights









Pictured:(Left) Christmas light displays are being modified to comply with COVID-19 restrictions for mask wearing and social distancing. Visitors will remain in their vehicles as they drive through the Christmas in the Park light display at Arnette Park. (Right) There are light displays in Fayetteville and in surrounding areas like this one at Lu-Mil Winery in Elizabethtown.

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