Cheer, tree planting mark Centennial holiday event

Santa Claus talks to children at Riverside.

Story by the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
Photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Dec. 8, 2017) – Santa Claus visited the lawn at Riverside Dec. 7 to usher in the holiday season with a tree lighting.

In addition to the tree lighting, Maj. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, the commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, added soil to a pine sapling, planted to commemorate Fort Benning’s centennial.


Wesley said that the newly planted tree will eventually become the new Christmas tree.

“We’re going into our 100-year anniversary,” said Wesley, “and we think we’re going to be around for another 100 years.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in a fire truck, and the legendary holiday figure listened to the children’s wishes. Warm drinks, food, and arts and crafts stations were on hand for the visitors, and the MCoE band was there playing seasonal music.

The event at Riverside will not be the only event at Fort Benning to feature Santa Claus at Fort Benning. The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s annual 250-foot airborne tower lighting ceremony is scheduled to take place at Eubanks Field Monday Dec. 11 beginning at 4 p.m.

That event will feature holiday music by the MCoE band, opening of the 34-foot towers, military working dog demonstration, Bradley and Stryker military vehicle and UH60 helicopter static displays.

The culmination of the event will include Santa Claus’s arrival accompanied by Fort Benning’s exhibition parachute team, the Silver Wings.

The event is free and open to the public. Non-military ID card holders must stop at the I-185 visitor center to request a pass.

To see more photos from the Dec. 7 Riverside event, visit the album at

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