Tuesday event is free, open to the public
Each year, Fort Leonard Wood celebrates the beginning of the holiday season with the lighting of the installation Christmas tree. This year’s Tree-Lighting Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Joint Services Park, where the public is invited to enjoy free holiday music and dance performances, food, a visit from Santa Claus and more.
“It’s an annual event that we conduct on behalf of the Garrison to kick off the holiday season,” said Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities manager.
The ceremony will include a variety of performances from 5:30 to 6 p.m., culminating in the lighting of the tree by a Fort Leonard Wood senior leader.
“We’ll have musical performances by the School Age Services children; the SKIES Program will do a dance and gymnastics exhibition, and the 399th Army Band will perform,” Wilson said. “As always, we will have holiday well wishes and comments from the command group, and a visit from Santa — Santa will arrive on a fire engine during the ceremony, which will conclude with the illumination of the tree.”
From 6 to 7 p.m., the event will feature photo opportunities with Santa, train rides for kids and free cocoa, coffee and snacks from the USO of Missouri Mobile Canteen. Visitors can also view the Cards to the Community Contest entries. Built and decorated by area units, organizations, businesses and families, the oversized plywood holiday cards will line the sidewalk near the tree to the parking area, Wilson said.
“We line it up like a walking display, which we refer to as ‘Christmas Card Lane,’” Wilson said.
This will be the first time Fort Leonard Wood’s Tree-Lighting Ceremony has been held at Joint
Services Park since 2016, shortly after which the post’s longtime Christmas tree was felled by a storm.
“The big tree is no longer there, but there is a tree that is larger than the others, and we expect that will be our primary tree for some time,” Wilson said.
Parking will be available in areas surrounding the park as well as adjacent lots with one exception, according to James Stewart, chief of police, Law Enforcement Division, Directorate of Emergency Services.
“The only area that is not open to parking is the northern parking lot of Building 499 — that lot is used to host the activities,” Stewart said.
“In the past, when the event was hosted in this location, motorists parked in the lots of the education center, Building 470 and GLWACH,” he added.
Stewart said that DES personnel will be available to assist pedestrians crossing the street from General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital and Bldg. 470 to the park.
For more information about the event, call the Installation Wide Events office at 573.596.6913 or visit https://leonardwood.armymwr.com.