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Walter Moldenhauer and Kelli Crider will greet guests this weekend for the Military Ball at the Nimitz Event Center. The center, located in the Nimitz Hotel on Main Street, has been the site of more than 100 events since its renovation two years ago. Photo by Phil Houseal

The Military Ball is a tribute and thank you open to all Texas active-duty servicemen and women and a guest, on Saturday, December 20, 2008. Cocktails are served at 6:30 pm, with dinner at 7:00 pm. Class A military attire is requested. Attendees are asked to confirm in advance by calling 830-997-4379, ext. 287, or via email at walterm@nimitzmuseum.org. There is no charge for the event, and sponsors are still welcome to help underwrite it.

The Nimitz Event Center will host its New Year's Eve Ball featuring Fiddlin' Frenchie Burke, a balloon drop, and midnight breakfast. Tickets are $25 and available at the Nimitz Bookstore. Call 830-997-4379 for information.

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Nimitz dresses up for military ball

by Phil Houseal
Dec 17, 2008


In the late 1800s, a young Chester Nimitz grew enamored of the uniforms and medals worn by soldiers who frequented his grandfather's hotel in Fredericksburg. This weekend, uniformed military members will once again gather at the restored Nimitz Hotel for a ball in their honor.

"We are trying to reestablish those old traditions," said Walter Moldenhauer, Director of Sales for the Nimitz Event Center. "This is a reminder of what Nimitz was exposed to during his boyhood here, before growing up and joining the military."

Moldenhauer and the Nimitz staff came up with the idea of reviving the Military Ball last year, basing it on Grandpa Nimitz's habit of honoring the military at Christmas. As far back as the 1850s, the hotel owner and immigrant would invite soldiers from nearby Fort Martin Scott and Fort Mason to come in to celebrate the holiday. Oma Nimitz would bake her special molasses Christmas cookies, while townsfolk stopped by to make ornaments for the tree, and a band played dance tunes. It brought a little bit of home to soldiers spending time away from their families.

The Military Ball is one of four major events sponsored by the Nimitz Event Center, all designed to reestablish the original atmosphere of the Nimitz Hotel. The others are the Masken Ball-Haunted House at Halloween, Christmas Offen House (Open House), and the New Year's Eve Ball.

Following a physical renovation in 2007, the Center has hosted more than 100 special occasions, including weddings, conferences, reunions and dances. Last week, the center produced three events in a row.

The renovations were extensive and included restoring the original ceiling height, updating audio-visual equipment, and adding a commercial catering kitchen. But Moldenhauer reports that people have been most impressed with the level of customer service. Moldenhauer and Kelli Crider, Event Manager, are proud of their turnkey approach.

"We don't just have a hall for rent," Moldenhauer pointed out. "We help them set up, provide tables and chairs, run the audio-visual equipment, and do clean up. Plus, we have a person assigned to each event, so someone from our staff is on site the whole time the clients are here."

For the Military Ball, the staff expects 100 to turn out. The event is open to all active duty military personnel in Texas. The Bill Smallwood Band will entertain, and a photographer will take commemorative portraits of the guests. There is no charge: the evening is underwritten by the Nimitz Event Center and by sponsors.

Crider spoke of how impressive it is just having the military companies in the building.

"This is a very upscale occasion," she said. "Just the way the ladies dress and the way the men look in their dress blues is heart wrenching. Having a nice evening for the couples to enjoy each other is important, because they never know if they are leaving tomorrow or in six months. Again what I'd like to do is to go back to the Nimitz family and remember the things important to them we would like to historically keep important to us also."

Standing inside the restored Main Street attraction, it is hard not to imagine that Chester Nimitz began his fascination with the military as a young boy padding through its halls and ballroom, looking up at the impressive men who left home to defend the frontier.

"We feel these events are part of the experiences that helped shape the character of the future Admiral," Moldenhauer said. "We also think the Admiral would want to see the heritage of the hotel and its place in the community live on through celebrations honoring the citizens of Fredericksburg, Kerrville, and the surrounding communities."