FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker officially kicked off the holiday season with a full evening of festive events to get people in the holiday spirit.

The installation kicked off the night of holiday cheer with the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Howze Field Dec. 1, where the smell of hot cocoa and sounds of Christmas music filled the air.

Throughout the event, hundreds of people were treated to holiday music by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Fort Rucker Detachment Band, as well as a caroling sing-along with different choirs, including the child development center choir, the Girl Scouts of America choir and the post chapel choir.

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, Fort Rucker and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general, was on hand during the ceremony to welcome and wish everyone a happy holiday season before the tree lighting.

"This is truly a time when we should all be thinking very clearly about the blessings that we have in life, and each one of you, each of your family members, each of your loved ones and you should truly dedicate this time of the year to those who mean the most to you," he said, encouraging people to keep those who can't be home for the holidays at the forefront.

"We have many family members around the globe today whose loved ones are somewhere else … separated from their families, so please do keep them in your thoughts and prayers," he said. "This is a time of giving, this is a time about healing and this is a time about peace, so please all of you take that time to enjoy what is special to you during this holiday and Christmas season."

Following the commanding general's remarks, awards were presented to children who created ornaments that adorned the post Christmas tree before they were invited to flip the switch and officially ring in the holiday season on post.

Following the tree lighting, Santa Claus, with the help of his elves, made an appearance and greeted children and family members to help get people in the Christmas spirit.

After the ceremony, people were treated to even more festive fun during the Commanding General's Holiday Concert at the post theater where the Maneuver Center of Excellence Fort Rucker Detachment Band pulled out all the stops to bring the sounds of the holidays to the installation.

The live concert consisted of holiday favorites like "Run, Rudolph, Run," "Baby, it's Cold Outside," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which played as the man in red made his way down the aisles to greet children and parents.

Dorothy Bainbridge, civilian, said this was her second year attending the holiday concert with her children, Matthew and Camilia, and she relishes the opportunity to get into the holiday spirit.

"The music is what always gets me every year," she said. "Christmas music is one of the greatest memories of my childhood and I wanted to make sure my children were able to have that same kind of memory when they grow up.

"I just want them to have a fondness like I do for the season, because this really is my favorite time of year," she continued. "I just think it's great that they put this on for the community."