FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood kicked off the holiday season Tuesday night at Joint Services Park with a virtual tree lighting. Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation organizers welcomed community members to the event virtually through a livestream on Fort Leonard Wood's Facebook page instead of a socially distanced in-person gathering due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Missouri. Cards to the Community returned to the traditional ceremony: the Bowman family of the 5th Engineer Battalion took home first place, the Counter Explosive Hazard Center's entry scored second and the Air Force 368th Training Squadron's card finished third. Best of Show went to the Plass family from the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Brig. Gen. Daryl Hood, U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School commandant (left), and Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Williams, delivered remarks on behalf of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Brig. Gen. James Bonner, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. They counted down to the official tree lighting after a surprise visit from a holiday icon.
Santa Claus made an appearance at the event and read from the classic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," better known by its first line, "'Twas the night before Christmas ... ."
399th Army Band members Spc. Leon Castellas, drummer, Staff Sgt. Matthew Locker, saxophonist, and Spc. Abner Mondoloka, upright bass, perform holiday music to accompany the festivities. The band sent a smaller ensemble than in previous years, and members maintained social distance.