FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Children and parents heard the sounds of sleigh bells and jolly laughter as they had milk and cookies with Santa Claus Dec. 9 at the Rucker-Picerne Partners building.

The annual event gives Families a chance to have free pictures taken with Santa, enjoy milk and cookies and get into the holiday spirit with crafts, holiday films and story readings.

"All of the (Picerne Military Housing) staff looks forward to putting this together every year," said Emily Natalio, Picerne Military Housing communications specialist. "Everyone really had a great time."

Several children attending the event were experiencing their first Christmas celebration. Staff Sgt. Shelton Gore, 6th Military Police Detachment, and his wife, Willette, brought their 8-month-old daughter, Maggie, to have her picture made with Santa.

As Maggie sat on Santa's lap for her picture, she was all smiles. After a quick tug on Santa's beard, she turned to her mother and the camera for the picture.

Gore said the experience was a little tense at first but things worked out better than he could have expected.

"I was kind of nervous for her, but she did great," he said. "It went really well."

The event was also a first for Picerne's new communications manager, Brandon Masters. He said he was impressed by the number of people who turned out and how smoothly everything went.

"There's a lot for Families to do and it's been amazing watching it all come together," Masters said. "It's also a great opportunity for Families to get photos to send to Family in other states or overseas."

Those who had pictures taken and want digital copies should e-mail their photo number and name to with the subject line "Santa Photo."