The night was filled with holiday cheer and children’s laughter at Marine Corps Air Station New River’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Waterfront Community Center located at the New River Marina, Dec. 8.

After welcoming remarks from Col. Curtis V. Ebitz, commanding officer, MCAS New River, the tree was lit and attendees dispersed to participate in holiday-themed activities. Families were offered hayrides, train rides, food and several activities for children to enjoy. During the event, local organizations handed out toys and treats to the children in attendance.

This year, over 1,000 patrons from the local community attended the event.

“It’s really great that the air station did this,” said Julie Sanders, a military spouse. “My kids love Santa, and this is one of my favorite events to take them to. I love watching their smiles as they see Santa arrive. It’s really great to see the community come together to celebrate the season.”

For many, the tree lighting ceremony was more than Christmas music and lights.

“It is important that we remember to come together as a community,” Ebitz said. “As we celebrate this special time of year, please remember the people who can’t be here today - those deployed in harm’s way and our loved ones back home. The tree lighting symbolizes hope and joy for the holiday season.”