Santa Claus came early for some local military families. The San Diego Armed Services YMCA hosted its annual “Christmas You Missed” event. It recreates Christmas for military families who were separated by deployment during the holiday season.
The YMCA creates a winter wonderland, with face painting, live music, and even a special appearance from Santa.
“It’s so much fun! I love doing it!” exclaimed 11-year-old Julia Aweh.
Julia’s father is in the Navy, so she is trying to enjoy the time her family has together.
“This year, he’s going to miss my birthday. He’s gonna miss my sister’s birthday, he’s going to miss my brother's birthday. We just hope to call him and check with him to see if he’s okay,” said Julia.
Besides missing holidays, service members commonly miss other special occasions.
U.S. Marine Corps Drill Instructor Kenny Soria, was deployed in Afghanistan, when his son, Kenny, Jr. was born.
“His favorite character right now is Pikachu. He loves Pokemon,” said Soria, as his son got his face painted.
San Diego has the nation’s largest concentration of military personnel. There are more than 100,000 active duty service members in the county.