Rochester, N.Y. — It’s a tradition many take for granted—watching “A Christmas Carol” with their family during the holidays.
But on Tuesday night, families at the Geva Theatre cherished this moment. That’s because all 550 people there were either veterans, active service members or families of military members.
For the last three years, the Geva Theatre has put on a free performance of “A Christmas Carol” for military families. The event is called “Home for the Holidays”.
Tina Cook, a retired member of the New York Army National Guard, brought her daughter to the performance.
“I think it’s great that [Geva] is able to provide this for military families, especially this time of year when people’s finances are tight,” Cook said.
According to Geva Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Cuddy, “Home for the Holidays” is a way for the theatre to give back to those who have sacrificed so much time away from their families.
“We were just thinking, ‘What can we do? The country is pulling together in so many ways and so many veterans are coming back but many more are overseas.’
It’s hard to return to normalcy after serving in the military. [“A Christmas Carol”] is a tradition here in Rochester and certainly to see “A Christmas Carol” provides that family experience and that bit of normalcy.”
Since November, the theatre has also been taking donations from theatre-goers to hold “Home for the Holidays.”
Amanda Joyce, the wife of an active army soldier and a mother of six, says she is grateful people are thinking of her family.
“It's really nice,” she said. “It makes you feel appreciated and kind of gives you more motivation to keep doing what you're doing.”
Joyce’s husband is stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. She doesn’t know if he will be able to make it back for Christmas, but she brought her daughters to “A Christmas Carol” so they could still find ways to enjoy this holiday season.
Every year, the play ends with a slide show of veterans and active service members sitting in the audiences. Cuddy says it adds a nice, personal touch to the event and families are emotional when they see their loved ones honored.