Fort Campbell is transforming into a Holiday Wonderland Dec. 3 thanks to the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and the community is invited to enjoy a variety of free activities continuing into the weekend.

Soldiers and Families of all ages will find something to enjoy, from a garrisonwide decorating contest and Holiday Market to the annual Ugly Sweater Run and a life-sized recreation of the Candy Land board game.

Holiday Wonderland

MWR is bringing most of its seasonal traditions together under the Holiday Wonderland banner with the goal of creating a more convenient and memorable experience for Soldiers and Families.

“A lot of this we have done before, but we’ve always had different events at different locations and times,” said Michelle King, special events coordinator, MWR. “This is the first time we’re bringing it all together in one location and one time frame for ease of enjoyment by the whole Family. You can park one time and visit everything!”

Attendees will gather at 5 p.m. Dec. 3 for the annual tree lighting at garrison headquarters, marking the installation’s first time hosting the ceremony in its new location since prior to construction of the current division headquarters.

“We will have our Child and Youth Services children’s choir out here, as well as the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Band,” King said. “From there, our special guest from the North Pole will be coming, and after we light the tree, which is always exciting, we’ll be going across the street to our newly renovated library.”

Activities at Robert F. Sink Memorial Library will include caroling, photos with Santa, a holiday market with vendors selling gift items, food trucks, Santa’s craft workshop and more.

“It’s all about enjoying the holiday magic,” King said. “Having fun and seeing that sparkle in your children’s eyes and enjoying the moment of magic. With this recent division exercise it is important to take a moment to enjoy time together during this season and enjoy the magic of Christmas.”

While most of the Holiday Wonderland experiences are traditional Family favorites, MWR has added two new activities to enjoy: the Garrison Holiday Decorating Contest and Holiday Market.

Holiday Market

Approximately 25 spaces for local vendors and Soldier Family Readiness Groups, or SFRGs, will set up shop before opening 4-8 p.m. at Robert F. Sink Memorial Library, 38 Screaming Eagle Blvd., to showcase their homemade items during the inaugural Holiday Market, part of the Holiday Wonderland.

“Applications for vendors and SFRGs will be taken until noon Nov. 29, and the fee to reserve a booth is $25 for non-SFRG vendors,” said Carrie Howell-Rattigan, operations assistant, Sports, Fitness and Aquatics, MWR. “We are waiving the $25 fee for any SFRG that offers baked goods.”

Holiday Market applications are available on Fort Campbell MWR’s Facebook page. To prevent any spread of COVID-19 during the event, MWR will be providing hand sanitizing stations, limiting the number of people in the market’s outdoor tented area and requiring face coverings indoors.

“MWR has hosted the tree lighting for many years, but this will be the first year for the Holiday Market,” Howell-Rattigan said. “The market is a wonderful addition to our other holiday offerings. Not only does it give everyone a chance to do some holiday shopping, but it also gives our community’s crafty entrepreneurs a place to show their wares. We hope this event will help everyone get into the holiday spirit.”

Holiday contest

The Fort Campbell community is further encouraged to embrace the seasonal spirit with the Garrison Holiday Decorating Contest that challenges participants to design a holiday-themed display to be showcased during the installation’s annual tree lighting at 5 p.m., Dec. 3 at garrison headquarters and be on display during the entire holiday season

Signups are available through Nov. 29 by emailing a name, organization (unit, office, agency, etc.) and contact information to michelle.a.king37.naf@army.mil.

Participants will receive an 8-foot-by-8-foot space around the garrison’s tree where they will have until 4 p.m. Dec. 1 to design their entry. There are no entry fees and the top three entrants will receive bragging rights and awards during the Holiday Wonderland’s tree lighting.

“You can do whatever you want in that space to show how your agency, SFRG or Family is celebrating,” King said. “That could be a decorated tree, a card, a sleigh, penguins – however you want to showcase that. And we’re using that opportunity to show how the whole garrison is coming together.”

Entrants should keep in mind there will be no electricity available for the contest, so any lights or decorations will need to be solar or battery-powered. Promoting private companies through contest displays also is not permitted.

“I want everyone to feel like they’re a part of the tree lighting,” King said. “It’s the entire garrison coming together to bring that magic to life because it does take a village. There are so many agencies that bring so much joy to our Families on a day-to-day-basis, and we would love to have them join us and celebrate that magic.”

Trees For Troops

Junior-enlisted Soldiers – E-4 and below – and their Families can bring home their own live trees from the Holiday Wonderland by attending Trees for Troops, noon-2 p.m. Dec. 3 at garrison headquarters. After 2 p.m. the trees will be available to all active-duty Soldiers and their Families while supplies last.

Trees for Troops is a program of the Christmas Spirit Foundation that provides freshly cut trees to Soldiers and their Families, and this year they’ve donated approximately 300 trees to Fort Campbell.

The trees will be distributed for free on a first-come, first-served basis, said Jay Jackson, transportation operations specialist, MWR.

“A lot of times, Soldiers’ budgets may be tight and they may not be able to afford a tree,” Jackson said. “I hope they realize that folks out there still want to thank them for their service by giving them a live tree.”

Attendees are asked to wear face masks because of the number of people expected to be in a limited space for the event. MWR will provide masks and hand sanitizer on site. Personnel may also provide literature and handouts to make sure Soldiers know how to properly care for a live tree.

“Some of the Soldiers may be going through rough times, especially with COVID-19, and we’ve heard about lots of loneliness,” Jackson said. “Maybe this will brighten up their holiday season and restore a little faith.”

Ugly Sweater Run

MWR is continuing the festivities into the weekend with the annual Ugly Sweater Run, hosted 8:30-10 a.m. Dec. 4 at Robert F. Sink Memorial Library.

Participants are encouraged to dress up in their ugliest holiday sweater for the run and arrive by 8 a.m. to enter the Ugly Sweater Contest. The top three outfits will win gift cards valued at approximately $25, $50 and $75.

“The route is going to be around Blanchfield Army Community Hospital,” said Brian Hinton, supervisory sports specialist, MWR, noting the run itself is untimed. “There will be a 1.5-mile and 2.5-mile option ... participants can register as early as 7 a.m. at the library registration site at the race.”

Attendees who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to wear face coverings, and there is no limit on the number of runners.

“The Ugly Sweater Run can start the beginning of social gatherings in the community, as well as provide a great opportunity to meet and greet between neighbors,” Hinton said. “We hope to improve health, motivation and encouragement in the community.”

Candy Land

Robert F. Sink Memorial Library is serving as the hub for Holiday Wonderland activities, so it’s only fitting that its interior will transform into a life-sized replica of Candy Land, open 5:30-8 p.m. Dec. 3. and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 4.

Children and Families can make their way around the board and explore a variety of candy-themed worlds on their way to meet King Candy, and will receive a prize after completing the game. Library staff also will host a story time and craft session for children as a reward.

“The Candy Land event is mainly going to be for the children to interact with, and there’s a lot of work and detail in the decorations,” said Floyd Council, supervisory librarian, Robert F. Sink Memorial Library. “Children as young as 2-3 and up to ages 6 or 7 will probably want to play the Candy Land game, and at the end of the trail they will receive wonderful bags of candy and prizes and have a fun holiday experience.”

Library staff have been hosting Candy Land events for approximately three years, but this is their first time returning to a traditional indoor event since the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset in 2020.

“The kids absolutely love it,” Council said. “In the life-sized version we’ll recreate most of the thematic events from the board game, and it’s really designed to stimulate the children. It’s going to be a wonderful environment for kids to see a life-sized version of the things, pick up some sweets and get that literacy engagement.”

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