FORT HOOD, Texas - The ground was drizzled with a cold, central-Texas winter rain and the icy air was whispering through the bleachers. Despite the less than ideal weather, family, friends, and people in uniform poured in front of Cooper Field for the 1st Cavalry Division's annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 14.

It took about three days of setting up to make the festive holiday atmosphere surrounding the division's headquarters building a reality, but for one newly-arrived cavalry troop, Pvt. William Peters of Lynchburg, Va., it was worth the all the work.

"I love the fact that Cav goes big in everything it does. It has a long, proud history of being the best and plus the tree looks beautiful," said the young cannon crewmember.

"It's big and bigger is always better," said Sgt. Shavonne Lewis about the Christmas tree towering over 30 feet tall. "Having the children turn on the lights on the tree is a great way for kids to interact with other kids."

It was barely past 5 o'clock in the evening when the kids were asked to join the rear detachment commander of the First Team, Col. Larry Phelps, on the division's yellow and black patch for a couple of songs. Then it was time to light things up.

Phelps of Greenville, Ala., along with dozens of children pulled the lever lighting up the 'Cavnormous-sized' Christmas tree. Suddenly, a jolly ol' man in a red and white suit showed up, filling the children's eyes with excitement.

Although Lewis' 6-month-old son Cederick, Jr., wasn't able to participate in the lighting this year, the native of Glendora, Calif., said that she made sure to be here so her son could see Santa.

One by one people lined up for a chance to see the jovial Saint Nick. But, while they waited in line there were cookies and cakes to nibble on and time to ponder what to ask Santa for this Christmas. For the Lewis family that was easy.

"We want a walker," she said. Lewis explained that the first six months have gone by so quickly and perhaps her son will be able to light the tree up next year because he loves playing with other kids.

The power generation equipment repairer added that even with the rapid deployment cycle family members are still able to enjoy the holidays with events such as this one.

Peters, a Soldier with the First Team's 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team said that although this is the first time he's not home for the holidays he's glad he is part of an organization that is big on family.

The self-proclaimed family man said the festivities really emphasis the message that despite the stresses of deployments to Iraq the families back home can still have fun by sharing the holidays with other families.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16