Soldiers, families and civilians sang along to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” played by the 1st Cavalry Division band as they gathered at the flagpole in front of III Corps Headquarters for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 11.

Col. William Phillips, garrison chaplain, welcomed the crowd, and senior post commander Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi spoke before the tree was lit.

“This Christmas tree symbolizes hope for people of all faiths and this is a moment of holiday spirit and tradition,” Ierardi said.

Then Santa Claus rode in with the 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Cavalry Detachment.

Spc. Karonja Barbee, of the 1st Cavalry Division, brought her two daughters to the ceremony in support of the Fort Hood community and the Chaplain Corps, she said. Her daughter, McKenzie, 5, had her own reason for attending.

“I am most excited to see the tree light up,” McKenzie said.

The Smith Middle School Choir and Fort Hood Family Housing Children’s Choir sang Christmas carols, accompanied by the 1st Cavalry Division Band donning Santa hats.

Araina Greene, wife of deployed Staff Sgt. Rashid Greene, attended the ceremony for the first time.

“We have been looking forward to this event,” Greene said.

Copperas Cove Mayor John Hull was in attendance, too.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for members of the community to show their support for all of the wonderful soldiers here at Fort Hood, especially at this time of the year,” Hull said.

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