• Zais Park lights up for holidays

    • email print
  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Fort Leavenworth is officially lit up for the holidays following the annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 1 at Zais Park.
    The event, hosted by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, IHG Army Hotels Holiday Inn Hoge Hall, Fort Leavenworth Frontier Heritage Communities, Munson Army Health Center, the Post Exchange and the Commissary, included pictures with Santa and “Buddy, the Elf,” carriage rides and performances by the Patton Junior High School choir, a combined choir from Bradley, Eisenhower and MacArthur Elementary Schools and the 312th Army Band. This year, the tree lighting had a double purpose as it also celebrated the 190th birthday of Fort Leavenworth.
    “This post is 190 years old this year and we’re very proud of that fact,” said Garrison Commander Col. Marne Sutten. “Today, we have representatives from all over our community. The reason that this community is so strong is because of the community.”
    This year, three families of deployed soldiers — Jamie Klink and her children James, 12, Cora, 10, Ava, 9, Danny, 2, and Ajax, 1, family of Lt. Col. Jonathan Klink, who was home on R&R from Afghanistan; Geanie Childers and her daughters Raegan, 3, and 7-month-old Riley,family of Spc. Chase Childers, currently deployed to Guantanamo Bay; and Alexandria Patterson and her children Ava, 7, Caitlyn, 7, and Aidan, 4, family of Maj. Steven Patterson, currently deployed to Iraq — helped with the tree lighting.
    FMWR Special Events Manager Zach Stephens said it’s important to keep the families of deployed soldiers involved.
    “We always use families with deployed spouses,” Stephens said. “We definitely want them to know that they are a valued part of the community. We like to keep them involved in as much stuff as we can, and it just makes sense to have them involved in something like this.”
    Alexandria Patterson said she and her children were happy to be chosen to be a part of the event.
    “We were really surprised but super excited and very fortunate,” she said. “The Leavenworth community has been amazing, so this was kind of icing on the cake for us.”
    Jamie Klink said she didn’t know how big of an event it was and was surprised by the number of people who attended.
    “We’re really honored, and I didn’t realize it was such a big deal, but we’re very pleased to be a part of it,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to be so big and that’s really nice because I live on post, and it’s always so quiet so I didn’t think we had such a sense of community. But, when you attend events like this you can see that we really do have a big community here that supports each other.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Klink said that having her daughters in the elementary school choir helped make them feel a part of the community as well. Son James Klink said he really enjoyed the music at the event.
    “I enjoyed listening to the Army band because I’m in the band at Patton and love music,” he said.
    Before the lights went on, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Commanding General Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy thanked all who help make the Fort Leavenworth community what it is.
    “I’m very thankful (and) very much appreciate everything that all of you do here at the Combined Arms Center and all of our units. This is a very unique community,” Lundy said. “You make this community, and I will tell you that all of our soldiers and our Department of the Army civilians are making a real difference to our Army … So, thank you very much for all that you do because you do make a difference in the lives of our soldiers and our families every day.”
  • Comment or view comments