YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - More than 500 community members gathered for the 2008 Community Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 2 near the South Post Fire Station.

The community celebrated the holiday spirit with Christmas carols, decorations and the arrival of Santa Claus.

The Seoul American Middle School choir and Protestant choir sang holiday songs before the lighting of the tree.

"This is a time for family," said U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Commander Col. Dave Hall, in his welcoming remarks. "Most of all, this is a time for the kids."

A Girl Scout and a Boy Scout represented the community and stood with the colonel and his wife Beth Anne to throw the ceremonial light switches and illuminate the holiday tree and the thousands of decorations known as "Winter Wonderland."

On count of five, the entire Garrison turned bright as all holiday decorations lit up the area.

Before the dazzling decorations, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops sang "Jingle Bells" in English and Korean.

Santa Claus arrived on a brightly lit fire engine with sirens wailing. Handing out candies, he drew an eager crowd of children.

A mini-studio inside the fire station offered an opportunity for children to take photos with Santa. Helpers served refreshments as well.

"I liked seeing Santa, he gave me candies," said Kimberly Martin, five-years-old. "I want to see him again."

Hall expressed gratitude to the community for helping the Garrison place as third place victors in the 2008 Army Communities of Excellence competition.

"We are committed to providing Soldiers and Families a quality of life commensurate with their service," Hall said.

USAG-Yongsan is currently a finalist in the 2009 ACOE competition as well.

Tree lighting ceremonies are planned for Hannam Village 6 p.m. Dec. 8 and at K-16 Air Base 5 p.m. Dec. 9.