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Naval District Washington (NDW) officially began its holiday season with the annual tree lighting ceremony in Admiral Leutze Park at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY) Nov. 30. Scores of guests attended the annual ceremony which included a reception, caroling, and a bonfire all hosted by Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, commandant of Naval District Washington, and Mrs. Lorge.

Guests at the event included military and civilian employees of the region, as well as naval attaches from around the world and their families, all enjoying the festivities and good cheer.

"This is now our third time here, and we've enjoyed it every time we've come," said Cmdr. David Wright, Australian naval attache. "Thank you very much to the U.S. Navy; my family thoroughly enjoyed being here, and I know the other attaches do too, and we appreciate very much the chance to do something like this."

Lorge is one of a handful of officers in NDW that works with the attaches, and has regularly invited them to the tree lighting ceremony year after year.

"It's a chance for us to meet on common ground, it's a celebration and a happy occasion," said Wright. "Most of us meet on a daily basis, but it's work-related, and we don't get to take our families to that, but here it's a social occasion, so our families can come along and enjoy the company of the people we work with."

The evening began at the WNY Town Center, with food, drinks and children's activities. Guests were also encouraged to decorate a smaller tree inside the Town Center during the event. Attaches even decorated the Town Center tree with ornaments representative of their home countries. After guests had eaten their fill, the daughter of the British naval attache, was chosen to throw the switch and light the tree in Admiral Leutze Park.

Guests made their way to the park by caroling at flag officers' residences on WNY along the way, accompanied by the U.S. Navy Band. Once all were gathered around the more than 30-foot tree, Lorge started the countdown that culminated in the brilliant tree lighting.

After the tree was lit, the crowd continued to enjoy the event, taking pictures and warming themselves by a bonfire set up by the Naval Support Activity Washington Fire Department.

"We thought it was a great way to celebrate the holiday with our Naval District Washington family," said Capt. Gary Clore, NDW regional chaplain, of the ceremony. "I see more than ever that it really draws the community together."

Clore went on to say that it was nice to see the event continue to draw a large and diverse crowd each year, and he hopes it continues to do so.

The tree will be on display at WNY for the remainder of the holiday season. To see photos from the Tree Lighting ceremony, please visit NDW's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.