YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The 2018 Festival of Trees, featuring free entertainment and holiday trees decorated by 40 commands and community groups, attracted a record number of U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka community members, more than 4,500 attendees, Dec. 6-9.
The event welcomed more than 4,500 Sailors, federal employees, host-nation friends and their family members -- more than double the amount of attendees at last year’s celebration, said Chris Dickson, Yokosuka’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation special events coordinator.
“Most of our Sailors and families are halfway around the world, it’s cold and it’s the holidays,” said Dickson. “It’s nice to give them something that is traditional and reminds them of home."
This year’s event featured holiday carols performed by local Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school choirs, music by the U.S. 7th Fleet Band, balloon artist Kernel Popcorn and photos with Santa.
But the focus and namesake of the celebration were the holiday trees decorated by Yokosuka-area commands and community groups such as 7th Fleet; Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70; Commander, Navy Surface Group Western Pacific; USO; USA Girls Scouts Overseas Yokosuka and DoDEA schools.
Participating organizations decorated their respective Nordmann Fir trees in unique ways. Guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52), whose Sailors are known as the "Barry Bulldogs," decorated their tree with origami bulldogs. Naval Hospital Yokosuka went with a superhero theme and MWR Library’s tree featured classic children’s books.
In the end, USS Benfold (DDG 65)’s tree - which featured a fake, but realistic-looking Sailor in the tree - was voted the community’s favorite. Linda Carlson, who decorated the tree alongside other Benfold Sailor spouses, said the group was inspired by a photo of a Grinch Christmas tree they found online.
“We decided to replace the Grinch with the Navy Sailor, which was more ship-themed,” Carlson said, adding the whole tree-decorating experience was a fun bonding experience for the team.
At the end of each day, festival goers were also treated to an illumination viewing of the trees.
“Festival of Trees is an opportunity for members of the U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka community to gather and celebrate the season," said Capt. Jeffrey Kim, commander of Fleet Activities Yokosuka. "I want to thank our CFAY Morale, Welfare and Recreation for organizing an event on base that helps spread holiday cheer to Sailors and their families who call Yokosuka their home away from home."
U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands, and more than 27,000 military and civilian personnel.
For more news from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/cfay/.