FORT SILL, Okla. (Dec. 2, 2022) — The Old Post Quadrangle was alive with the thunderous screams of hundreds of children as the North Pole’s most famous resident made his grand entrance to signal the start of Fort Sill’s holiday season.
A visit by Santa Claus, or Old Saint Nick for the purists out there, was the highlight of Fort Sill’s and FMWR’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 1. The event kicks off, at least for Fort Sill, the official start of the holiday season.
“This is just a great opportunity to get everybody from the Lawton/Fort Sill community together and celebrate the holidays,” said Fort Sill Garrison Commander Col. Jim Peay. “We’ve been really looking forward to this all year and we hope everybody has a great holiday season.”
As the OPQ filled with hundreds of Fort Sill and Lawton denizens, the Pride of Fort Sill, the 77th Army Band, kept the crowds entertained with the sounds of Christmas while FMWR helped push back the chill by providing everyone with steaming cups of hot cocoa. To further entertain the masses, Lawton Public Schools’ MacArthur Middle School Choir sang a few melodies and dancers from the Lawton Ballet Theater pirouetted across the stage in a style reminiscent of the Nutcracker Suite.
As the last note was sang by the choir, the field came alive with the flashing lights of a fire truck from Fort Sill’s Department of Emergency Services. To the delighted joy of children, parents and one Major General, Kriss Kringle, Father Christmas, the Jolly Old Man, Santa Claus himself, spryly bounded off the truck. He shook the North Pole snow from his boots and greeted each child present with a “Ho, Ho, Ho,” and a “Merry Christmas.”
While Santa climbed a fire ladder to the top of the tree, the children marched to the Fort Sill Half-Section’s 1911 75mm Field Gun to take the 50-foot lanyard in hand and fire the cannon, because at Fort Sill the only way to light a Christmas tree is with artillery.
On the count of three a loud boom traveled across the post and the OPQ was suddenly alight with the soft, sparkly glow of Fort Sill’s Christmas tree.
“This tree is a symbol of the holiday season with great friends and family,” said Peay. “This tree, with all the lights, reminds us of all the blessings we enjoy.”