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A whole lot of 12 to 12-12

Seattle Sea Gals Variety Show comes to JBLM

The Sea Gals will be on post Saturday to bring 12 spirit to the military. Photo credit:

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When the Seattle Sea Gals Variety Show comes to the Carey Theater Saturday, Dec. 12, it will be the 10th one that AAFES manager Patrick McGhee and his staff have brought to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  The show itself is a fun-filled variety show, a sort of mini-Radio City Rockette's show featuring cheerleaders from the Seattle Seahawks and some other very special guests.  But there's more to the event than just what happens inside the theater.

The annual event has gained popularity over the years, with the queue to enter the theater beginning very early.  People begin to line up at 5 a.m. for the free show that begins at 7 p.m. (doors usually open around 4 p.m.) Last year, the first arrivals to line up camped out at midnight the night before; around 1,100 people saw the show. There are no advance tickets, even for parents of participating children. But it won't be the standard, miserable line-up that precedes shows and sporting events: the preshow line and theater entry has become as much of an event as the show itself.  As the day progresses there will be activities, mini-games, vendor handouts, and visits from such special guests as Seahawks team players and retired players.  

Tommy "Tiny" Lister, retired professional wrestler known for his role as neighborhood bully Deebo in the movie Friday, will be on-hand to interact with the assembled crowd.  Beverages and other handout samples will be served to people waiting in line, goodie bags will be given at the door, and bigger-dollar value items like TVs, laptops, and Go Pro Minis will be given away through a raffle during the show itself.  

Earlier this year, the call for participation was put out to servicemembers' kids between the ages of 5 and 16; these kids are separated into age groups and learn a routine that's performed during the show.  They'll be showing up to meet with the Sea Gals at 8:30 a.m. the day of the show to learn the routine, and will have a shirt and memories to show for the experience.  Parents of participants aren't guaranteed a spot in the theater, though - like everyone else, they'll be lined up for the first-come, first served seats.

This event is unique to JBLM, having come to the installation with McGhee 10 years ago.  McGhee brought similar variety shows to his prior work posts with AAFES; in total he and his staff has been producing these events for 20 years. Even more unique is the fact that this interactive, all-ages friendly event is not just free, but provides participants to walk away with free goods, whether they win a raffle prize or not.  Add to that, this event is put on by a group of people during their busiest business time of the year (after all, the holidays, to retail, are like the Super Bowl, to football).  Vendor support is solicited for months in advance to keep the free goods flowing, and the event is peppered with entertainment and fun.  

McGhee's administrative assistant, Mary Roldan, explains, "The Exchange's mission statement is to continue to serve those who serve us. It's really all about giving back; that's what we're trying to do."

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