MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Members of the Cherry Point and local communities packed the Two Rivers Theater Friday for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band’s annual Christmas concert, “The Stars and Stripes for Christmas.”
This year’s concert featured traditional Christmas songs like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and a “Christmas Sing-a-Long” inviting the audience to sing along as the band played pieces like “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”
As the concert went on in full swing, the band changed the setting by inviting the “Big Band,” a group consisting of members of the band’s jazz ensemble and enlisted conductor Gunnery Sgt. Michael Maschmeier, to conduct jazz pieces the band had prepared for unsuspecting audience members.
Near the end of the concert, retired Master Sgt. Mark Munger narrated “T’was the Night Before Christmas,” an adaptation of the classic poem, while the band played along.
As Munger finished reading the final line “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night,” bells could be heard in the distance as a familiar figure approached the audience with a hearty “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!”
Santa Claus weaved in and out of the cheering audience members, tossing candy to children and spreading holiday cheer as the band accompanied him playing “Sleigh Ride.”
“You just never know where Santa Claus is,” said Staff Sgt. Terri Kopetzki, small ensemble leader for the band. “He’s always watching.”
The classic Marine Corps concert finale is John Phillip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” but for the Christmas concert the band performed “The Stars and Stripes for Christmas,” the national march of the United States peppered with a mix of beloved Christmas melodies like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”
“We all know that no Marine band concert would be complete without concluding with our national march,” said Kopetzki. “However, a Marine band Christmas concert would be complete by concluding with the ‘Stars and Stripes for Christmas,’ which is the theme of the concert.”
As the band wrapped things up, audience members gave a standing ovation to show their appreciation.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Kathleen Marshall, who came out to enjoy the concert with her husband, retired Gunnery Sgt. Albert R. Marshall. “This concert is uplifting, enjoyable and great for kids.”
Inviting the community to events like the “Stars and Stripes for Christmas” brings the community together, said Marshall.
“We all have to work together to lift our holiday spirits up,” she said.