FORT KNOX, Ky. — Ideal weather, over 300 Christmas trees, and the anticipation of Santa Claus showing up Dec. 4 drew hundreds of people to this year’s Fort Knox Christmas tree lighting ceremony.Children busied themselves writing and sealing letters to Santa and stuffing a nearby red mailbox with them as folks lined up  to receive warm drinks. Shortly after the sun disappeared, the night sky brightened with colorful lights from the installation Christmas tree standing in the gazebo near Garrison Headquarters.The commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox delivered a very important message to the crowd. He told them he had talked with 45th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle about concerns about Santa Claus’ ability to deliver presents due to the pandemic.“This is what he told me,” Evans said. “He said, ‘John, we’ve been working this problem for the last month. We’ve done medical testing, and we have determined that Santa Claus is, in fact, immune to COVID-19,’ so he will have no problem coming to all your houses, okay?“Nobody needs to worry about Santa Claus missing a house.”Officials and senior leaders at Fort Knox said they were pleasantly surprised that so many people turned out for the event. They were also happy with everybody wearing facial coverings and practicing social distancing when possible.Stoney Cline, Special Projects manager for Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said his office worked closely with the Fort Knox Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to put on the event and develop the safety plans.“I give all the credit to Chris Dent [at DFMWR],” said Cline. “He spearheaded everything here we see.”Cline explained that while DFMWR focused on getting Santa Claus to town, setting up the Christmas tree, arranging drinks, working with agencies to deliver Christmas cheer and bring Trees For Troops to the post, his job was to coordinate this year’s Christmas card event.Each year, on post units, agencies and organizations, along with participating local area off-post agencies, create giant cards made of plywood and have them erected around Brooks Parade Field. Post leaders then judge the cards in five categories: Military Units; Fort Knox Civilian Agencies; Schools/Children-Related Agencies; Off-Post Civilian Agencies; and the People’s Choice Award.Cline said this year’s competition started off sparse.“Last year, we had 62 total entries. This year, we had 42; a significant drop-off,” said Cline.Then, something changed.“I didn’t think it was going to take off the way it did,” said Cline. “I’ve got people still bringing cards next week, just to show folks they’re not worried about competing, so that’s cool — the spirit’s out.”After the tree lighting, the Fort Knox Fire Department dropped Santa off and he made his way to a transparent tent, which featured a fireplace and chair. The tent allowed Santa to interact with a long line of children waiting to see him without creating a situation that might spread COVID-19.Another long line formed in front of makeshift barriers to the Trees for Troops event. Soldiers and Family members entered a winding maze of trees, some propping them up, others comparing two or more.Paul Fugere, who works in Operations at Cadet Command, stood along the perimeter as his family checked several trees. Soon, they picked their tree. He nodded in approval.“We came here last year, and they had a great event over there for the kids,” said Fugere. “The tree we got was absolutely phenomenal.”He said the tree held up for weeks afterward and the family was so impressed, they wrote a letter of thanks to the farm for donating the trees. Fugere said he saw the same quality trees as last year — and the same festive spirit.“The kids are happy, the wife is happy, and that makes me happy,” said Fugere. “It looks the same as it did last year to me, except we’re all wearing face coverings.”____________________________________________________Editor’s Note: For more images, visit our official Flickr site HERE.