By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs

Even though it was 60 degrees, it snowed at NAS Jacksonville Dec. 2 during the Dashing Through the Grove event, thanks to assistance of the Ice Man company. Around 1,000 active duty members, their families and friends came out to enjoy the annual event at Patriots Grove. This year's event featured new items to help create a magical time for the entire family.

"This year we put up new lights to include candy canes and lollipops so it looks like a Candyland-type theme," said Brittany Brown, recreation assistant for Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "We plan to build on this theme in the upcoming years." 

Hundreds of children lined up for Santa's arrive aboard the NAS Jax Fire Department ladder truck. Families were able to take photos of their children visiting Santa. The families also enjoyed riding a small train around the park. 

"I asked Santa for a race track," said Micah English, 4 years old.

While many stood in line to see Santa, others took turns sledding down an icy slide or having fun bombarding one another with snowballs. According to an Ice Man employee, 20 tons of ice were used to help create the snow play area.

Before the official program began, NAS Jax Command Chaplain Cmdr. Dennis Andrews, Navy chaplain, gave a seasonal blessing. NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Sean P. Haley thanked the guests for attending before beginning the countdown to light the base Christmas tree. Members from Navy Band Southeast also provided holiday music to entertain the crowd. MWR provided free hot chocolate, cookies and candy.

"I think it is great to see so many volunteers out here and it is very family friendly," said Dannalynn Dallas.

Additional activities included face painting, balloon artists, bounce houses and an assortment of inflatable games.

"I love how well everything was put together at this event and we had a fantastic time," said Kalifornia Hartsfield.

"This event is one of the highlights that we look forward to each year. NAS Jax events are becoming a part of everyone's holiday traditions and that makes us extremely proud," said Community Recreation Director Tom Kubalewski.

Special thanks go out to all the people behind the scenes including First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services,Base  Security Department, Chapel Center, Facilities Department, Navy Exchange, Commissary and MWR who all helped make this annual event such a huge success.

NAS Jax MWR coordinated the event, which was sponsored by VyStar Credit Union. 

Neither MWR, nor the U.S. Navy or any other part of the federal government officially endorses any company, sponsor or its products or services.