Touching Base: Service members participate in Tacoma's tree lighting tradition

TACOMA -- Our new series ‘Touching Base’ is dedicated to our local military and their families, both on the job and in our community. Tonight, we’re touching base with service members in Tacoma, where the city recently celebrated the annual holiday tree lighting.

It's a tradition that has been going on for 74 years and counting: People in the South Sound have gathered at the corner of 9th and Broadway. There, you can clearly see the jolly man in red, isn’t the only person in uniform.

“You know we are a military town,” says Mayor Victoria Woodards.

“It’s tough for all of our soldiers, you know, you can’t help but think about your families when your away for the holidays. I’ve celebrated Christmases in Iraq, I’ve celebrated Christmases in Korea. And it’s always special when you’re able to be home and just take part in the traditions that you grew up with,” says Col. Timothy White.

“We just welcomed a group of soldiers home from Kuwait yesterday and one thing that you don’t take for granted in the military is local community. And the sense of community that a city like Tacoma brings,” says Col. White.

In addition to the tree lighting and pictures with Santa, families enjoyed live music provided by a military band.

“You recognize the deep commitment they have to this community and how much they feel apart of this community,” says Mayor Woodards.

“When they do a countdown and the lights come on, it sort of kicks off the holiday season and the element of magic,” says Amara Oden from Tacoma.

It only happens once a year, but the smiles go on for days. And each note carries well beyond the page.

Col. White says Joint Base Lewis McChord has about 55,000 soldiers, airmen and civilians that are either stationed there or work there on a day to day basis. The military is a huge part of this community and they are just grateful they can celebrate the holidays like this together.