Inside DOD   Know Your Military

Life-Size Gingerbread Village Pops Up At Camp Pendleton

Dec. 11, 2019 | BY Katie Lange

Kids love the holiday season. It brings cookies, hot cocoa, Santa’s sleigh and all the gifts that come with it, and plenty of spirit to go around.

But thousands of U.S. military families don’t get to celebrate with all of their loved ones. Many service members are stationed far from home during the holiday season. Others have their immediate families with them, but they still miss out on their favorite traditions with extended family.

One way to make that distance a little more tolerable is to bring the spirit of the season to them.

Life size outdoor gingerbread village
A life-size gingerbread village is set up to help families celebrate the holidays at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 10, 2019. USO photo
Life size outdoor gingerbread village
Gingerbread Village
A life-size gingerbread village is set up to help families celebrate the holidays at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 10, 2019. USO photo
Photo By: Not Listed
VIRIN: 191210-D-XC753-0001

Many military installations try to make the season bright for their military families. At Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, the USO recently went all-out creating a life-size gingerbread village to give military families a festive way to enjoy the holidays.

Santa’s helpers escorted the families inside the houses, where kids were able to decorate cookies, make ornaments and write letters to Old Saint Nick. There was also a hot cocoa bar and – of course – plenty of photo opportunities.

Man watches his son decorate with icing
Gunnery Sgt. Eleazar Zamano, a motor transport chief with 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division watches his son decorate a gingerbread cookie at the United Service Organizations Holidays at the USO aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 9, 2019. The Camp Pendleton USO provided a life-sized gingerbread village, cookie decorating and a hot cocoa bar. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts)
Man watches his son decorate with icing
191209-M-XF840-055
Gunnery Sgt. Eleazar Zamano, a motor transport chief with 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division watches his son decorate a gingerbread cookie at the United Service Organizations Holidays at the USO aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 9, 2019. The Camp Pendleton USO provided a life-sized gingerbread village, cookie decorating and a hot cocoa bar. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts)
Photo By: Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts
VIRIN: 191209-M-XF840-055

Eligible families who visited the gingerbread village also received electronic hubs to take home that show off photos of family and friends. The devices can help them feel more connected with loved ones.

How is your installation celebrating the season this year?