The installation Christmas tree was officially lit at Joint Services Park Tuesday evening during the Fort Leonard Wood Grand Illumination Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Nearly-freezing temperatures didn't stop Santa, installation leaders, Families and children from flipping the switch and officially kicking off the holiday season on post.

Before the tree lighting, community members gathered in the park and listened to holiday music provided by the School Aged Services Singing Project singers and the 399th Army Band. Following the performances, the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department arrived, sirens blaring, with Santa and Mrs. Claus in tow. The duo joined Brig. Gen. James Bonner, U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School commandant, representing post leadership, in flipping the switch.

"On behalf of Maj. Gen. Savre (Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general), welcome to this fine tradition we do every year," Bonner said to the crowd. Bonner expressed appreciation to those making the event possible and encouraged everyone to make the most of this time of year

"I hope everyone enjoys it and has a safe holiday season," he said.

The installation also sponsored a "Cards to the Community" project that gave organizations the opportunity to create a 4-foot-by-8-foot plywood holiday card for public display at the park.

LoraLee Neubeck, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation special events coordinator, said there were six entries in the contest. Winners were: Columbia College, first place; Directorate of Emergency Services Military Police Station, second place; 14th Military Police Brigade, third place; and the Best in Show went to Electric Krayon. Neubeck, along with Col. Tracy Lanier, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Orvis, USAG, presented awards to representatives of each winning organization.

Following the ceremony, community members were able to take part in 13 Family activities during FMWR's annual Winter Wonderland event. Activities included pictures with Santa, Christmas movies, games and more. The Mobile USO was on-hand to provide refreshments.

"We wanted to kick-off the holiday season in a festive atmosphere," Neubeck said. "We hope everyone let their wishes be known to Santa and had a good time."