The fog was thick and the air was cold but that didn’t stop the annual lighting of the giant Fort Bragg Christmas tree.

Children from the Bowley Bobcat Chorus, an elementary school on Fort Bragg, sang Christmas carols and danced for the crowd as they entered the Main Post Parade Field for the ceremony Monday evening.

A thunderous count-down began as the Family of the Year, Command Sgt. Maj. William Bauer, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, his wife, Laura, and son, William III, lit the Christmas tree alongside Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general.

Moments later, sirens rang out as Santa Claus showed up on a fire truck.

“Santa coming in on the fire truck was really exciting for all of the kids,” said Rachel Quesada, as she waited in line for the train ride with her two children, Cara, 2, and Logan, 5 months.

“My husband is deployed right now so anything fun to get the kids out of the house is always nice,” said Quesada. “This is my first time at this event and it was just so cute watching the kid’s chorus and seeing my daughter’s excitement over the Christmas tree.”

Hot chocolate and cookies were passed out by Family, Morale and Welfare, Recreation  while the USO Show Troupe sang holiday classics on stage. Many companies and several volunteers contributed to the success of the ceremony.

“I came out here to set up for the event and volunteer my time,” said Spc. Rahul Tangirala, assigned to the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers volunteer.

“It’s nice to volunteer for an event like this and watch all the Families and kids smile and have a good time,” said Tangirala.  “It has been such a great way to spend my evening and this has been one of the best events I’ve volunteered for on Fort Bragg so far.”

The tree was lit and the night was filled with Christmas music and activities for the kids. Small gifts from local businesses were passed out from tents that surrounded the field.

“We hope the whole Family can participate next year,” said Quesada. “Although this is my first time coming to this event, this is definitely something we will do as a Family next year.”