Military Family Officially Kicks Off Holidays at the Disneyland Resort in Lighting Ceremony Presented by SYLVANIA

Betsy Villalobos

by , Senior Manager, External Communications, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products

Last night, Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Poteat, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s S-6 communication platoon, and his family “flipped the switch” on more than 300,000 lights blanketing “it’s a small world” Holiday, transforming the popular attraction into a visual wonderland and officially launching the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort.

The festive ceremony, presented by the attraction’s sponsor, SYLVANIA, honored Poteat and his family for the contributions they have made to our country. Poteat, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1996, has completed three tours and recently returned from the latest, a seven-month deployment in the Middle East. He was joined by his three children, nephew, niece and wife, Clarice, an advisor to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unity’s family readiness team, for a day of play at the Disneyland Resort followed by this special honor.

Tune in to the video below to see how the holidays were made especially bright for the Poteat family.

Warm holiday greetings from the Disneyland Resort to you and all our brave servicemen and servicewomen!


  • My Dad served in the Navy for 24 years. Our entire family has treasured memories of how well Disney treated us after my Dad returned from Vietnam. The free tickets allowed us to visit DL when it would of otherwise been financially impossible. Those military tickets were a pre-cursor of todays pay once and ride everything type ticket. I felt like a rock star flashing my “special ticket” and not needing to use one from the coupon book ! This was extra special since Vietnam vets were at this time being spit on.
    Decades later we had another very special time as my Dad was Veteran of the day at the MK.
    Your support of the military truly helps spur my loyalty to all things Disney.

  • Remember that Monday was not the first night the lights turned on, on its a small world, Friday was the first offical night (the lights were 10 minutes late, I should know I was in line) on Friday. And if they kept the lights on during the day they would have still been seen because of how bright those lights are.

  • Thanks for taking to the time to salute our courageous and hard working servicemen and servicewomen.

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