HONOLULU, Hawaii --
If Santa had any worries about making enough toys for the less fortunate keiki (children) of Hawaii, with the help of the Marines he can now confidently visit many Oahu homes and fill any unused Christmas tree spaces.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and BAE Systems held the 4th Annual Mele o na Keiki (Music for the Children) Holiday concert at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center here Dec. 1. The event featured the MarForPac Band and was MarForPac’s gift to the community and an opportunity to support the Toys for Tots program.
Every year, as the holiday season draws near, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Reserve conducts a nation-wide donation program in order to provide gifts for the less fortunate children in the U.S.
At the concert, hundreds of toys and more than $2,000 were donated, but the real gift was the show put on the by the band.
The concert was not only a holiday event, but also a chance for the band to share some Marine Corps customs with the audience. Lt. Gen. Duane D. Thiessen, commander, MarForPac, and the audience took their turns rattling the Blaisdell Center with motivating “ooh-rah’s” just before the start of music.
The MarForPac Band, along with guest performers such as 10-year-old Aidan James, Hawaiian Soul and Henry Kapono rocked the audience into the holiday spirit.
“I came out for the Marines and the military and to be here to enjoy everyone on Christmas … the joy of being here and the Aloha,” said Henry Kapono.
Hawaiian State Ballet performed the Sugar Plum Fairy and other dances, which brought a needed Christmas delicacy to the event as they pranced around the stage.
Local duo HAPA added a mellow holiday flair to the program.
Jim Nabors, honorary Marine corporal, made a special appearance and sang “Silent Night” and “Little Drummer Boy.”
Romance was the only theme missing until Cpl. Jeremy Catlidge, trombone player for MarForPac Band, and Ginai performed “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with guest guitarist Chris Vandercook.
After the musical performances, Thiessen had a treat for the audience as well. He invited children to the stage and passed out “Doot-duh-doos.” After sharing a story about his musical abilities as a child, he demonstrated how to play “Jingle Bells” by singing “doot-duh-doo” into the small plastic tubes.
As the concert ended, Santa made a surprise appearance and thanked the audience for helping him gather toys for the children.
This concert helped Marines and the Hawaii community bond for the holidays.
“It joins the Marines with the community musically,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael W. Smith, the officer in charge of the MarForPac Band. “This is the town where our home is, where our spouses go to work and our children go to school. It’s not just a show to entertain. It’s a show to embrace our community.”