America Supports You: Troops, Families Enjoy Radio City Show
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
NEW YORK, Nov. 13, 2007 For thousands of servicemembers and their families, the “75th Celebration of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at New York’s Radio City Music Hall last night lived up to expectations and then some.
Air Force Capt. Scott Perkins, a C-5 pilot, and his wife, Shelly, get their photo taken in front of Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Nov. 12, 2007. Perkins and other servicemembers received free admission to the 75th Celebration of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Microsoft Corp. and United Service Organizations partnered to thank the military community with “A Salute to Our Troops.” The software giant, which recently became a corporate supporter of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program, bought out the 5,600-seat theater for a private and complimentary performance of the annual holiday event.
America Supports You connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad. The USO also is a supporter of the program.
As the lobby filled, anticipation bubbled on top of excitement for many, maybe most of all for the youngest in the crowd.
“I hope that it’s way exciting!” said Kyra Sucharski, 10, whose father, Army Capt. Steve Sucharski, is stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The family had seen the show last year, and the beginning and the ending had impressed her. She hoped those parts were as good this year. Her father and her mother, Andrea, were grateful to Microsoft for the opportunity to attend the show.
“I think it shows … support for the troops,” he said. “It’s really a great big thank you, (and) I think a chance to get a thank you like this is kind of cool, especially around the holidays.”
The gesture became even more special when it was announced that the performance was being taped to air on NBC during the holiday season. The footage also will become part of a special DVD.
As Michael Allen, director of business strategy and operations for Microsoft’s federal division, had promised earlier, the show began a bit early with a surprise. Video messages from troops serving overseas played before a joint color guard rose from below the stage on an elevator platform. While the guard presented the colors, the 2006-07 Military Idol, Army Cpl. Victoria Golding, sang the national anthem.
The mood then shifted from sentimental to festive, as a herd of dancing reindeer carried Santa’s sleigh from a northern forest to the doors of Radio City Music Hall. The 3-D “trip” was an in-your-face experience for the audience, which donned special glasses to get the full effect.
Once Santa was in the house, he and a group of singers provided the entertainment between dance numbers, which featured the world-famous Rockettes and their precision steps. The dancers’ signature kick lines drew applause from the crowd, which included a group of wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
While the show is completely new for its 75th anniversary, the servicemembers and their guests were treated to some revised standards, including a toy soldier routine.
Before the show was finished, two live camels – one smiling at the audience – and a donkey had done their part to put smiles on the humans’ faces. As for audience participation, however, nothing topped the moment near the end of the performance when each servicemember, family member and guest held a small, lighted wand. The effect was awe-inspiring as the wands waved in the dark.
As the crowd exited the storied theater, it seemed the Rockettes had won a new generation of fans.
“The Rockettes were amazing,” Navy Seaman Apprentice Christopher Nunnally said. “I was blown away by the show.”
Currently stationed at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., Nunnally said he was happy to leave the show with a few mementos for his sister and his new wife, a sailor stationed in Japan. He said without Microsoft’s support he never would have come to New York or seen the show.
“I’m from a small town in Texas,” Nunnally said. “Coming to New York City for the first time, I really see how much people really do appreciate what we do.”
John Crandall, 11, disagreed with Nunnally, however. He said the scene in Santa’s workshop was the best. His sister, Mackenzie, 7, said she was glad to see the show again since she doesn’t remember the first time she sat in the theater for the show. She was only 3 at the time, she explained.
Her mom, Stephanie, said Microsoft provided families stationed at the U.S. Military Academy a good opportunity.
“It was fabulous for families to be able to come down,” she said. “I know a lot of families took advantage of that from West Point.” Her husband, Army Maj. Doug Crandall, was home with the couple’s other two children.
As the theater crew prepared for its third and final performance of the day, servicemembers and their guests spilled out onto the streets of the Big Apple with memories to keep them smiling throughout the holidays.