FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 3, 2020) -- The pandemic environment did not dampen the spirit of Fort Sill’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony Dec. 1, at the Old Post Quadrangle (OPQ). About 400 people attended the 6 p.m. event which ushered in the holiday season.The post made special provisions to conduct the traditional event, said Fort Sill Garrison Commander Col. Rhett Taylor.“It took the whole garrison team coming together and working with the Commander’s Planning Group with recommendations for a safe tree lighting,” Taylor said. “We’re making our own history by using this (flagpole) tree for the first time, and having the families safely spread out to celebrate the holidays.”CeremonyIn his invocation, Chaplain (Col.) Robert Glazener, installation senior chaplain, said: “May this tree and the season it represents be a symbol of joy reminding us of good teammates who bring gladness and enthusiasm into our lives, a family who stands by one another in good times and bad. As the Quad lights, I ask your wisdom to illuminate our way forward beyond the craziness of 2020.”For years the lighting had been conducted in front of McNair Hall with the “Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” said Michael Simmons, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security chief of ceremonies, and the ceremony narrator.“I’ve been here 20 years, and this is the first time we’ve done this here (OPQ),” Simmons told the crowd. “It took the work of a lot of individuals, and a lot of organizations. You know this is going to be an improvement over the Charlie Brown tree.”After a couple Christmas selections (“White Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”) by the 77th Army Band, the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill command team of Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper and Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Burnley, joined vocalist Staff Sgt. Kandra Garnett of the band on stage for a group singalong of “Jingle Bells.”Commanding generalKamper thanked the families for attending, and he thanked the directorates and units who made the tree lighting possible. He also thanked Gold Star families who attended.The general said holiday trees have different meanings for different people.“When I look at the tree I think of sharing this holiday season with family and friends,” Kamper said. “I look at this tree and its thousand lights, and I think about the thousands of blessings that we enjoy.“There’s a tinge of sadness … thoughts of those who have passed on, and thoughts of those who are away and deployed.“Krista (Mrs. Kamper) and my wish for each of y’all in this holiday season is that you experience a full measure of joy, love, hope, and peace.”LightingThen all the children were invited to join the commanding general as they pulled a 50-foot lanyard to fire a 1911 howitzer to turn on the tree lights.Jen Troxell, USO Oklahoma center operations and program manager, and Bobby Wooldridge, USO mobile operations and program specialist, manned a trailer providing cocoa, coffee, pre-packed cookies, and peppermint sticks, as well as coloring books and USO 2021 calendars. She said they had plenty of provisions for the crowd.Army Community Service’s Survivor Outreach Services had invited Gold Star families to the tree lighting, said Denise Prout, ACS specialist. SOS’s annual Gold Star family dinner was canceled because of the pandemic, so the tree lighting was selected as a venue to recognize the families.Afterward, the community was invited to join Santa at the Patriot Club for a spaghetti dinner.