By Mark Wyatt, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
Several hundred people from on and off the Hanscom Air Force Base attended the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony outside the base chapel on Monday.
Installation Commander Col. Taona Enriquez and Installation Command Chief Master Sergeant Alan Weary, as well as Santa Claus and a deployed service member’s family officially lit the tree.
“This year’s tree lighting event transcended the boundaries of Hanscom Air Force Base, extending a warm welcome to members of the local community and residents from nearby towns,” said Enriquez following the event.
It was the first time since 2002 that Hanscom AFB opened its gates to off-base personnel.
The gathering, estimated to have drawn approximately 300 attendees, brought together military personnel, their families, along with the broader community and their families.
The tree lighting ceremony was streamed live on the installation’s official Facebook page.
“Streaming the ceremony on social media allowed friends, family members, and well-wishers to virtually participate in the festivities, underscoring our commitment to embracing innovative ways to engage the entire community,” said Weary.
“We did this to build stronger connections between the base and the surrounding communities, as well as acknowledging the importance of shared celebrations during the holiday season,” said Enriquez.
The decision to open the event to the greater community follows former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., asking leaders to “connect the Air Force with the American public.”
“When the public meets our amazing Airmen, sees the exciting missions, and understands the value of military service, it can be life changing,” wrote Brown, who is now serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Also on hand to celebrate the event were several civic leaders, including state and local officials, honorary commanders/directors, and numerous nearby school officials.