120222-A-ZN169-060
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A child looks up at artificial snow coming down at Patriots Park during Fort Jackson's holiday tree lighting ceremony Dec. 4. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
120222-A-ZN169-064
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A snowman blows artificial snow into the air during the Fort Jackson annual holiday tree lighting event Dec. 4 at Patriots Park on post. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
120222-A-ZN169-075
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Children play in fake snow at Patriots Park on post, Dec. 2 as they await the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the post Christmas Tree. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
120222-A-ZN169-1034
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. Jonathan Gifford, a trumpeteer with the 282nd Army Band plays holiday hits during the Fort Jackson Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at Patriots Park on post, Dec. 2. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
120222-A-ZN169-147
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander, and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier push the button to light the post's holiday tree during a ceremony, Dec. 2. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
120222-A-ZN169-154
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Santa and Mrs. Claus sit under the Fort Jackson Christmas Tree during the installation's annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, Dec. 2 (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Jackson’s holiday festivities officially opened Dec. 2, when Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, post commander and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier pushed a button to light up the post’s holiday tree.

The annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony is traditionally the first step in the post’s preparations for the holiday season. Next up on the list is a holiday post run Dec. 13 before troops started heading home on Victory Block Leave.

The tree lighting ceremony was arguably the most attended ceremony of its kind in years.

“It’s amazing the holiday spirit you are (showing) when you come out in force,” Kelly said moments before turning on the lights. “I absolutely love that we get the chance to come together and spend a moment to reflect on the start of the season and a countdown to the new year.”

“You’ve accomplished so much in the last 12 months,” Kelly said reflecting on the past year. “Tens of thousands of the Army’s newest Soldiers graduated from basic training; we started this game changing Future Soldier Preparatory Course; and we began more initiatives that I can count that change the quality of life here on Fort Jackson.”

The season is a time of joy no matter one’s philosophy or religion, he said.

The night was joyous with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation pulling out all the stops to create a candy land at Patriots Park on post. There was artificial snow, a licorice lagoon and other candy themed areas where children of all ages would enjoy.

“This is awesome, they have a lot more stuff than last year,” said Army spouse Ashton Kessler.

“This is a nice family-friendly event and outlet to bring the girls so they can have a good time,” said Capt. James Smith, company commander for Company B, 151st Attack Battalion, of the South Carolina Army National Guard.