Two big holiday traditions will merge at the Redstone Arsenal community tree lighting ceremony when the Huntsville Ballet Company brings this year’s Nutcracker theme to life.

Exactly one week after Thanksgiving, the lighting ceremony will kick off December holiday celebrations. Everyone who has access to the Arsenal is invited to attend the free event, and to have their photo made with Santa Claus and the Sugar Plum Fairy, said Natalie Crawford, special events coordinator for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, which hosts the event, on behalf of the garrison.

The event takes a lot of planning and preparation. The 25-foot-tall tree was assembled and decorated Friday at The Summit.

“It takes quite a few volunteers to install and decorate the tree,” Crawford said. “We like to make sure everything is in good working order before the big day.”

This year, she said active duty personnel from the chapel, volunteers, along with bucket trucks and linemen from the Directorate of Public Works and Wolf Creek Contracting helped assemble and decorate the tree — and get the five-foot-tall star attached to the top.

On Dec. 5, the festivities will last from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Helping Garrison Commander Col. Kelsey Smith with the official lighting of tree at 5:30 p.m. will be Aeliana Albandoz, the 4-year-old daughter of fallen Soldier 1st Lt. David Albandoz. Her mother, Nicoleta Padureanu, will also be there. It is a tradition to have a Gold Star family from the Survivor Outreach Services Program participate in the annual event.

Crawford said from 300-500 people usually turn out for the event, which honors Soldiers and their families, and provides fun, food and entertainment for all ages.

As in years past, she said Woody Anderson Ford will provide a battery-powered children’s vehicle as a giveaway.

“It’s always a big hit with the kids,” she said.

Ms. Ruby’s Chili will be served, along with homemade Java Café hot chocolate and The Summit’s chocolate fountain.

“There will be lots of happy faces and community involvement,” Crawford said. “It is a great event to attend.”

She said the event also helps raise awareness of MWR activities aware to the community.

“Our focus this year is to promote two of our Recreation Division activities: the MWR Library and the Arts and Crafts Center,” Crawford added.

As a fun and interactive way to do this, team members from all divisions will run a craft station

Where they will assist children in painting wooden nutcrackers. The Youth Center teens will run the annual “Cards to Deployed” table so that the community can hand craft a card that Crawford will send to deployed service members and civilians who are overseas.

“This is always a nice way for us to include our service members who won’t be home for the holidays,” Crawford said.

Once again, the Home Depot Santa’s Work Shop will be on hand where kids can paint a tile.

Then this year’s big twist will be fully costumed dancers from the Huntsville Ballet Company, who will perform live excerpts from its 50th annual production of The Nutcracker, along with a few other varieties of dance.

“There will be a meet and greet and photo opportunities with the Sugar Plum Fairies from the ballet,” Crawford said. “The Huntsville Ballet Company will also host impromptu dance classes with the children … we are so excited about this great partnership and the fun experiences they are bringing to this event.”

For more information go to, or call 842-5231.

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