Story and photos by Steve Parker, The Sullivans Elementary School.
The Sullivans School in Yokosuka, Japan hosted a unique visitor on December 5th and 6th. Mrs. Claus came to town! Mrs. Claus arrived for two days ahead of her spouse, Santa Claus’ visit later this month. During her visit, Mrs. Claus read classic Christmas books (The Night Before Christmas) and sang Christmas carols as the children rang the bells with approximately 21 classes during her two day visit.
Kimberly Ann Mumford, who portrayed Mrs. Claus, stated she visited the school because; “I want to take a little time to meet the wonderful children of the brave men and women who are serving in the United States Navy. She had a wonderful time with the children and even brought some good tidings of great joy as she was able to tell many of the children that their moms and dads who were serving on CVN 73, the USS George Washington were pulling into port that same day. During her visit, Mrs. Claus had her favorite experience of her 27 year career when a mother, Melissa Scott, brought her husband, Petty Officer First Class Douglas Scott in to her daughter, Desiree’s 2nd grade class. Petty Officer Scott had just arrived back in Yokosuka on board the USS George Washington (CVN 73). The George Washington had been helping with relief efforts in The Philippine Islands that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in early November. Desiree, who was unaware that her father was coming home that day, was totally surprised by his sudden appearance at her school. Mrs. Claus described her reaction, “I told everyone I had a special delivery for Desiree Scott, then the little girl’s father walked in. The little girl ran to her father, oh, she was so excited, she almost had Mrs. Claus in tears.”Mumford, a navy spouse who was raised in Throop, Pennsylvania loves to perform for children wherever her career as a navy spouse takes her. She has portrayed her character in Pennsylvania, while stationed with her husband Jason in Idaho and in Washington State and for the past 3 years in Japan. She has appeared at child care centers, schools, post offices, Base Libraries, and the Navy Exchange (NEX). She has also graced Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) functions- The Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, and events such as the Seventh Fleet Band Christmas Concerts, Toys for Tots, USO Cookie Caravan, The Girl Scouts Christmas parties, Japanese orphanages and schools, and various children’s Christmas parties for the ships and Navy land locations. The majority of her work is volunteering for functions.
Mumford began performing at 15 and believes the true meaning of Christmas is giving to others and that is why she enjoys portraying Mrs. Claus and spreading holiday cheer with everyone she meets.
Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 50 schools in DoDEA Pacific are composed of more than 23,500 students and 3,400 professional educators and support staff. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.
The Sullivans School is the largest school in DoDEA with a student body of approximately 1200 in grades K-5.