By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It’s a holiday gift they won’t soon forget.
Red Star Twirler Jessica Avelar and her parents Tina and Lu received a surprise last Saturday night during the Twirlers’ holiday show at the Derry Opera House.
Army Spec. Corey Avelar, hidden under wraps the previous day, walked down the Opera House aisle during a special salute in the military portion of the show to surprise his family.
Avelar, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., has been in the military for two years.
Red Star coach Gina Hutchinson said she originally planned to have Avelar do a video to wish his parents a Merry Christmas.
His sister Jessica helped pitch the idea to the soldier. The video was shown in a Red Star show in Newport earlier this month.
Tina Avelar said she loved seeing the video of her son.
“The only thing that could have made it better was for him to come out from behind the curtain,” she said.
When it turned out Avelar could actually return home for the holidays, Hutchinson made it into a surprise event for the Derry performance.
“I asked his sister Jessica if he would be willing to ‘hide out’ with friends on the 14th so he could surprise his parents at the show,” Hutchinson said. “He was and that started the best surprise for a parent ever.”
Avelar said her son knew all along he would be able to come home for the holidays. He will remain home until Jan. 4.
The secret was kept well.
“Gina, my son and daughter all swore the little (twirlers) to secrecy,” she said, “And not one of them squawked.”
Hutchinson said she was happily on the sidelines for the event and all credit should go to the the Avelar brother-and-sister team.
“They are both a credit to their parents,” Hutchinson said. “A whole family of big hearts.”
The show in Derry was the Red Stars’ salute to the holidays and also a benefit for the Derry News Santa Fund.