Slithering onto Naval Air Station Patuxent River for the third year in a row, the Grinch will flip the switch at the Dec. 20 tree-lighting ceremony to officially kick off the holiday celebration at Who-ville, otherwise known as Mattapany Day Camp.
Sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), this year’s Who-bilation includes caroling choral groups from three local schools, Christmas crafts, a bring-your-own-camera photo op with the Grinch, a post office for kids to mail their letters to Santa, colorful decorations and plenty of lights.
“There are thousands and thousands,” said Jen Marchant Beavers, recreation director at Naval Recreation Center Solomons, of the lights that will illuminate a path from the front gate through the woods, decorate all six pavilions, most of the camp’s buildings and the trees that surround the activity.
Marchant Beavers and Dave Cardinale, MWR’s marketing director, are busy coordinating the decorating efforts, trying each year to build on what’s been done before. Finding a few spare hours in their work day or putting in time during evenings and weekends, the team — with some helpers — began decorating the first week in November and will probably continue right up until Who-ville’s opening.
“Some of our decorations are shared with other departments and events around base,” Cardinale said, “which means we can’t use them until they’re finished with them.”
One of those events is Cookies with the Clauses, Dec. 13-15 at NRC Solomons, just one week before the Who-ville opening.
“As soon as that event is over, we’ll transport those decorations to Mattapany,” Marchant Beavers said. “We’ll do it ‘Grinch style,’ by tossing the fully decorated trees into a van and driving them across the bridge that night.”
The team is also working both nights of the event, selling tickets at the entry gate; and Solomons summer recreation aides — home from school for the holidays — are assisting with the arts and crafts in the Martha May cabin, and the Jingle Jinglers and Cindy-Lou Who rooms, said Marchant Beavers.
But it’ll probably be Erich Engel, as the Grinch, who draws the most attention from the few hundred kids expected to attend.
Engel, a recreation aide, isn’t new to the Grinch, having played the role in a St. Mary’s County Parks and Recreation production of “Seussical The Musical,” a couple years ago.
“I’ll be in costume, but I won’t be wearing a mask,” he said. “I’ll be doing my own green face makeup.”
Who-ville, located at Mattapany Day Camp off Buse Road, is open from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 20 and Dec 21. Choral groups from Chopticon, Spring Ridge and Father Andrew White schools are performing Dec. 20. Tickets are $4 per person, ages 3 and older, paid at the Mattapany Day Camp gate. Parking is available at the Energy Zone or across from MWR’s administrative offices in building 467. Proceeds from Who-ville benefit future MWR special events.