Nov. 19, 2009

Virginia Guard to present free holiday concerts

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — With the holiday season just around the corner, the Virginia Army National Guard’s 29th Army Band is making final preparations to present the third annual Holiday Concert Series Dec. 4-5 in Colonial Heights and Richmond for the families of the Virginia Guard and their communities.


Santa Claus made a surprise visit to the 2008 Holiday Concert in Manassas in December 2008. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The free concerts, which will feature holiday music, activities for children, a visit from Santa and refreshments, will be held at the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Colonial Heights Dec. 4 and in the multi-purpose room of Hunter Holmes McGuire Veteran’s Hospital, as well as Saint Paul’s Baptist Church in Richmond, Dec. 5.

“This is the Virginia National Guard's way of saying thank you to Virginia's citizens for their continued patriotic support to the commonwealth's Soldiers and Airmen,” said 1st Sgt. Fred Lewis, 29th Army band first sergeant.

The band has been busy preparing for this since the completion of their Summer Concert Series in July. They committed a significant amount of time during their two-week annual training in July preparing for the upcoming events, according to Lewis. Their drill weekends in October and September were also largely dedicated toward perfecting the holiday show

“It’s a great opportunity for us as a band to play music that we wouldn’t normally get to play,” said Lewis, “We get a chance to accompany vocalists in a different setting and for a different type of audience.”

Some of the vocalists Lewis mentions are not actually members of the band, or even members of the Guard for that matter. Chelsey Helms, 18, cousin of Staff Sgt, David Helms, and Tina Harrison, whose husband was assigned to the 229th Military Police Company when they were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, will be featured soloists at this year’s concerts.

Also bringing their vocal styling to this year’s event will be Missy Carter and Cindy Blevins. Cindy’s husband Capt. Clay Blevins, commander of the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, will also be singing this year.


Soldiers from the 29th Army Band show their holiday spirit during the concert held in Manassas in December 2008.(Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“We wanted to come out last year, but couldn’t because of prior obligations,” said Blevins who works with MHN Government Services in support of military families. “We are excited to participate this year.”

“This gives a face to the families of the Guard and it’s a way to reach out and touch the communities in other ways without just talking about deployments,” she said. “It’s important to show our support to the service members.”

She will be the featured solo in the holiday classic, Gesu Bambino. Her husband will be the featured singer during The Christmas Song.

"These celebrations are the Adjutant General's way of saying 'Thank you' to the families and communities," said Col. Thom Morgan, Virginia National Guard J-1, "It is our gift to them for their commitment and continued patriotic support to the Commonwealth's Soldiers and Airmen."

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