ERDC gets in Christmas spirit

Published 7:11 pm Thursday, December 7, 2017

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg is ready for Christmas.

ERDC held its third annual Christmas tree lighting Thursday evening with a special appearance from Santa Claus, who rode in on the Vicksburg Fire Department’s new ladder truck.

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The center’s Castle Club was on hand with hot chocolate and candy canes, and Christmas carols were sung before Santa helped to flip the switch and light the 17-foot tall Christmas tree.

Santa then stayed around to take photos and hear the Christmas wishes with more than 100 families expected to visit him.

“When I showed up at ERDC 2 1/2 years ago, ERDC actually didn’t do anything for Christmas,” ERDC commander Col. Bryan Green said. “I wanted to do something that during Christmas when we get all bogged down and focused on other things, how do I bring a little light and joy and how do I do something for them to bring their families and provide a safe environment for them to have the opportunity to meet Santa.”

The tree lighting was only the first Christmas event of the season for ERDC as the center will also be holding an ERDC Under the Lights drive-thru presentation, which is open to the public.

ERDC Under the Lights will be Dec. 15 and 16 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and the price of admission is one can good for the Vicksburg Food Pantry. Green said the volunteers have spent hundreds of combined hours decorating the labs throughout the center getting ready for the presentation.

“They all get really competitive about who can out decorate the other and because of their creative natures they will do a lot of really creative things,” Green said. “The environmental lab is running their own radio station. The Coastal Hydraulics Lab, I went down to the woodshop and what did I find? They were making snowflakes and Christmas trees to put out to make ERDC Under the Lights. It is a way we can do a little something fun, have some community spirit and light up the Holiday season.”

During the event, visitors will have the chance to vote on which labs they prefer and the winner will earn points towards the Commander’s Cup, which is given out each October during Corps Day.

This is the second year ERDC has held its Under the Lights, but the first time it will be open to the public. Green said he decided to open it to the community as part of his initiative to make ERDC a “public facing entity.”

“We lost touch with the community a little bit since 9/11 and I think this is one of the ways we can give back and help the town remember the Waterways Experiment Station and ERDC is in their back yard,” Green said.