ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois -- (Dec. 7, 2018) The Rock Island Arsenal held the 43rd annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and activities on Dec. 7 outside and in Heritage Hall, Bldg. 60, with a large crowd of children and adults participating in the festivities.

The late afternoon event included performance by the Rock Island High School Choir, the Blackhawk College Chamber Singers, as well as singing by the children of Arsenal's own Child Development Center.

Not long after, a special appearance was made by Santa Claus to assist Lt. Gen. Thomas James Jr., commanding general, First Army, and Col. Stephen Marr, garrison commander, U.S. Army Garrison Rock Island Arsenal, in lighting the tree. Santa and his elves were available afterwards for free photos with Santa and to hear what the children would like for Christmas.

In addition, there were children's activities and door prizes.

Prior to the official kickoff of the ceremony the winners of the 2nd annual Gingerbread House Contest were announced, as there were numerous great looking entries in this year's contest.

The FMWR sponsors this year included the Rock Island Arsenal Federal Credit Union, Walcott American Legion Auxiliary #548, the Rock Island Arsenal Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, and USO of Illinois.