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Shinya Shimada, right, and Toshie Ogane of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force 2nd Submarine Flotilla add the finishing touches to their tree Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base.
Shinya Shimada, right, and Toshie Ogane of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force 2nd Submarine Flotilla add the finishing touches to their tree Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)
Shinya Shimada, right, and Toshie Ogane of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force 2nd Submarine Flotilla add the finishing touches to their tree Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base.
Shinya Shimada, right, and Toshie Ogane of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force 2nd Submarine Flotilla add the finishing touches to their tree Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)
Chief Petty Officer Dana Demers tops the USS Cowpens Christmas Tree with ... a cow. Every command on Yokosuka Naval Base, along with several organizations on and off base, decorated one of 44 trees for this weekend's Festival of Trees.
Chief Petty Officer Dana Demers tops the USS Cowpens Christmas Tree with ... a cow. Every command on Yokosuka Naval Base, along with several organizations on and off base, decorated one of 44 trees for this weekend's Festival of Trees. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)
Hundreds of people trimmed trees in the C2 Auditorium Wednesday to prepare for this weekend’s Festival of Trees at Yokosuka Naval Base.
Hundreds of people trimmed trees in the C2 Auditorium Wednesday to prepare for this weekend’s Festival of Trees at Yokosuka Naval Base. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Ferrets. Bling. Embarrassing family photos. Symmetry. The key to creating the perfect Christmas tree depends on whom you ask.

“Stand back and squint,” recommends Reylynda Didonato. “You get perspective; you get the tree.”

“Sparkly lights,” says 9-year-old Abby Dial. “You need sparkly lights.”

Tree trimming is no competition at Yokosuka Naval Base. Festival of Trees is strictly an exhibition of creativity and pride, said Paul Lopez, the recreation director for Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“That’s what makes this so neat,” Lopez said, gesturing at the hundreds of people chatting and trimming trees in the C2 Auditorium on Wednesday. “People don’t do this for prizes; they’re here to show their pride and to be a part of the community.”

Noble firs arrived from the United States last week, but the participating 44 commands and organizations decorated their trees together Wednesday night.

Public viewing is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, as part of the annual festival, and admission is free. Entertainment is scheduled for both days. Plus, Santa Claus — “the Jolly One himself” — will put in an appearance, said Lopez.

“He won’t be making promises, but Santa will be taking requests in the North Pole section,” Lopez said.

Each tree represents those who decorated it. For example, no angel tops the USS Cowpens’ contribution. Chief Dana Demers wrestled red garland to the apex, then gave an inflatable cow the best view. Paws for a Cause posted pet photos on its tree.

“Pictures make it more family-like,” said volunteer Christina Didio.

USS Kitty Hawk decorators went with feathers, masks and beads for a New Orleans tree.

“Our tree is for the victims of Hurricane Katrina so we’re putting out a donation box for the Red Cross,” said Stacey Amano.

But creativity aside, there are some universal tree tips that everyone can benefit from this Christmas.

Wrap branches with lights, starting from the inside and working out, says Julie P. Shepard, a volunteer at Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

“I picked up that tip from ‘The White House Christmas Special’ a couple years ago,” Shepard said. Or, if you’re out of patience and no one is telling you what to do …

“Just slop things on there,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Castro.

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