December 3, 2008

Virginia Guard gives the gift of music with three free holiday concerts Dec. 5 - 7

By Capt. Dayna Rowden
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Santa and Mrs. Claus visit with attenedees during one of last year's Virginia National Guard holiday concerts. This year the Virginia Guard's 29th Army Band will preform three free concerts Dec. 5-7 at various locations around the state.

FORT PICKETT, Va. — As the rest of the nation readies itself for the holiday season, the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office and the 29th Army Band prepare to give the gift of music to its Soldiers and Airmen, their families and their communities.

The free concerts, which will feature holiday music, children’s activities, refreshments and a visit with Santa, will be held in Weber City on Dec. 5, in Centreville on Dec. 6, and in Virginia Beach on Dec. 7.

Family Programs has prepared for this event for four months, designing activities and crafts and filling over 300 treat bags for the children who will be attending the celebrations.

“This is our way of showing our support to the families of our deployed Guardsmen,” said Dana Ivory, Family Program State Youth Coordinator. “The families can have a chance to celebrate with our families, friends and supporters of the Guard.”

The 29th Band has prepared for the concert since their annual training in July. The band will be performing favorite holiday songs.

“It’s a great opportunity for us as a band to play music that we wouldn’t normally get to play,” said 1st Sgt. Fred Lewis, acting commander and conductor of the 29th Army Band. “We get a change to accompany vocalists in a different setting and for a different type of audience.”

Some Guard employees, family members and band members have even mustered up the courage to be featured soloists. The following people will be featured vocalists: Melissa Carter, whose husband Spc. Shawn Carter plays the saxophone in the band; Chelsea Helms, 17, whose cousin Staff Sgt. David Helms plays the clarinet; Sgt. Ashia Spencer who also plays the clarinet; Spc. Jason Hale who plays the tuba; and Tina Harrison, the State Family Assistance Center Coordinator.

“In the past, I sang with church and school choirs,” said Harrison. “Now, I mostly just sing karaoke when I can.”

Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Burton Harrison, who is assigned with the 229th Military Police Company, has deployed in support of operation Noble Eagle and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

“We consider the Guard our family.  This is my way of being able to give back to the Guard,” said Harrison. “I can share my experience with families who have Soldiers deployed overseas, and this is a great way for me to meet families I wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet.”

For more information, contact Dana Ivory, Virginia National Guard State Youth Coordinator by email at dana.ivory@us.army.mil or by phone at (434) 298-5330.

The Holiday Celebration will be held in the following locations and times:

Friday, Dec. 5, 2008
7:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church
362 US Highway 23 N
Weber City, VA

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Centreville United
Methodist Church
6400 Old Centreville Rd.
Centreville, VA

Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008
2:30 p.m.
Thalia Lynn Baptist Church
4392 Virginia Beach Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA

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