Grass Valley rolls out red carpet for Beale Air Force Base workers and their families |

Grass Valley rolls out red carpet for Beale Air Force Base workers and their families

Beale Air Force Base husband-wife pilots Major Court Worden, holding 20-month old Charlee, and Major Megan Worden, holding eight-week old Devyn, pose with their four-year-old daughter Elliette and Santa Claus (portrayed by Ric Caravelli)
Photo for The Union by Lorraine Jewett |

The Airmen of Beale Air Force Base have been embroiled in one conflict or another for the past 17 years.

Friday night, more than 100 Airmen and their families had a chance to relax while enjoying some of Grass Valley’s finest food and holiday cheer.

The occasion was the 7th Annual Beale Appreciation Reception at the Gold Miners Inn, hosted by the downtown hotel and the Grass Valley Downtown Association.

Thank you and welcome

The reception served as both a show of gratitude to the 6,500 military personnel stationed at Beale Air Force Base in Yuba County, and an invitation to explore Grass Valley and the opening night of the 50th Annual Cornish Christmas.

During opening remarks, Nevada County Third District Supervisor Dan Miller thanked the Airmen for their service and sacrifice.

“To Beale career military, what you do is a calling,” said Miller. “We respect and admire you. You have to understand your calling to do what you do, and for that our community is extremely grateful.”

Beale Air Force Base is home to the nation’s only high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance fleet, which includes the U-2 Dragon Lady and RQ-4 Global Hawk. Beale’s airmen and aircraft are deployed all over the world carrying out their mission and fighting the war against terrorism.

Beale’s economic impact totals more than $600-million throughout Northern California.

Year-round hospitality

Four of the five members of the Grass Valley City Council were on hand to welcome and thank the servicemen and women. Mayor Howard Levine invited the Airmen to return often with their families, and offered a special incentive to the children.

“Even when Cornish Christmas isn’t happening, we’re still here with the best ice cream, candy, and toys,” said Levine. “It’s a great place to spend time with your family. We’re proud of Grass Valley and our family-oriented community.”

U.S. Air Force Colonel Larry Broadwell, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Commander at Beale, thanked the Grass Valley community for its generosity and hospitality.

“You don’t have to be an Airman to have a calling,” said Broadwell. “All those who serve our communities do it in such an admirable way out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Later, Broadwell added, “This is a special time of the year for our Airmen and everyone here in Grass Valley and this event really epitomizes what we hold valuable, including strong relationships with our community. On behalf of Beale Airmen serving all over the world who aren’t able to join us, I say, ‘Thank you.’ We rely heavily on our neighbors and we value any opportunities we have to come together.”

The event was a community affair, with many local businesses contributing their products and services. Wine was donated and served by Lucchesi Vineyards and Winery. A selection of hors d’oeuvres, small plate buffet items and desserts were donated by Maria’s Mexican Restaurant, Kane’s Family Restaurant, Charlie’s Café, Ristorante Alloro Cucina Italiana, and Ike’s Quarter Café.

Santa makes an appearance

Santa Claus, aka Ric Caravelli, patiently asked a long line of the Airmen’s children what they wanted for Christmas. Even very young children, who initially cried and squirmed, warmed up to the affable Santa and shared their wish lists.

When the last morsel was devoured, Santa Claus, local dignitaries and police officers including Chief Alex Gammelgard, led an informal parade uptown where the Airmen and their families enjoyed Cornish Christmas festivities.

“Grass Valley’s Cornish Christmas is one of many great events that we love attending throughout the year,” said Beale pilot Major Megan Worden, who enjoyed the evening with her husband and three daughters. “Going above and beyond to thank the military community is appreciated and a great way to kick off the Christmas season. We really enjoyed it.”

Lt. Colonel Jason Terry, his wife Fiona, and four-year-old daughter Isadora were guests at the Beale Appreciation Reception and later visited the many booths at Cornish Christmas.

“As military families who move every two years and have to pick up our roots, it’s good to be able to establish ties to the new communities that we call home,” said Terry, who was transferred from Colorado to Beale in March 2016. “Events like this allow us to see the culture and meet the people in the areas in which we live.”

“This event has grown into such a wonderful night for the Airmen as well as downtown Grass Valley,” said Gold Miners Inn General Manager Sean Gilleran. “We are privileged to show our appreciation for what Beale does for our community and our country. The Airmen have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful downtown during the magical holiday season, which will continue to be beneficial to our local businesses throughout the year.”

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be contacted at

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