GROTON, Conn. – Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with its annual Winter Wonderland which featured its customary Christmas tree lighting and a visit by Santa Clause, Dec. 6.

SUBASE New London’s Dealey Plaza was decorated with lights and a three-story Christmas tree that glimmered and glowed in the frosty night. Santa and Mrs. Clause greeted guests while children made cookies and wrote letters before taking a photo with Santa for Christmas.

“An early Merry Christmas to all of you from SUBASE!” said SUBASE New London Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Moore to the crowd. “I just want to welcome you here tonight to Dealey Plaza to kick off our holiday season. I have with me a few special guests. I just want to give a big shout-out to everyone who made tonight possible: NAVFAC, Public Works Department, MWR, Sub School, Public Affairs and all the others supporting to make tonight a magical event for our families.”

Moore took a moment to introduce Santa and Mrs. Clause and relate the similarity of Santa’s yearly flight while giving thanks to the Sailors currently at sea during the holidays.

“With us tonight, straight from the North Pole, two very busy people this time of year, Santa and Mrs. Clause,” said Moore.” We are honored to have them here today and we know they understand service and giving to others. Mrs. Clause very much understands what it’s like to have her husband so consumed by his work that he spends long hours away from work. He goes on deployment every year. We here at the SUBASE know what that’s like so we give big thanks to Mrs. Clause. Let us also thank those families, and those Sailors who are at sea, especially USS Minnesota and USS Colorado on deployment right now. Big thanks and congratulations!”

Following the traditional countdown, Dakota Sans, Mika Sans, Luke Shipley and Rhys Devers threw the switch and lit-up the Christmas tree and all the twinkling and colorful lights throughout the plaza. The crowd cheered at the beauty of the lights as Christmas songs played over the sound system.

Inside Dealey Theater and the base library, children decorated Christmas cookies while some made crafts and others wrote letters to Santa. Lines snaked through the building as families waited for their children to meet and get a photo with Santa. The theater also played Christmas specials for families’ viewing pleasure.

One new feature of the event was a tent filled with bicycles provided courtesy of the United Service Organization (USO) which were given to Navy children in a raffle.

“The USO has been so kind to donate some bikes to give away to active duty families,” said Cathy Terrell, youth director at the SUBASE Youth Center. “We’re registering families and we’ll have a drawing at 6:30. It’s a way to give back and say thanks.”

At 6:30 p.m. families gathered around the USO tent with their ticket stubs in hand, eager to see if they would be taking home a bicycle for their children. As the numbers were drawn bikes were passed to the recipients. Dealey Plaza was filled with children excitedly riding their new bikes in circles or up and down the plaza as their parents guided them back to their cars for the evening.

“This is my daughter Hadley,” said Jenny Lynes of her four-year-old eagerly pedaling her new pink and white bike along. “She’s only ever had a tricycle. This is her first actual bike and she’s really excited.”

As the event drew to a close and the families returned to the comfort and warmth of their homes for the night, the air in Dealey Plaza was filled with beloved Christmas tunes and holiday cheer.

Connecticut Media Group