12/04/12 — Base lights Christmas tree

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Base lights Christmas tree

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 4, 2012 1:46 PM

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Alexis Dalton tells Santa Claus what she wants for Christmas during the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Christmas tree lighting. Santa made a stop at the base after a busy weekend of parades.

She wasn't going to let her little brother hold the spotlight all by himself -- the 3-year-old girl who was among those who turned out for the annual Christmas tree lighting celebration Monday on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

So Kaitlyn Cowan ran toward him -- stopping only when the holiday music blaring across the grounds prompted her to spin around and wave her arms.

Andrew didn't seem to mind.

In fact, the 1-year-old's laughter indicated that he welcomed a partner for his next dance number.

Some came for the carriage rides -- to, as Jackson Riley said, see "a real horse up close."

Others, like 4-year-old Eric Rubio, showed up for the sweet treats associated with a holiday celebration.

But one attraction was king Monday evening.

The line that extended across the parking lot proved it.

Santa owned the night.

Connor Tompkins wanted a dad's-eye view of the man in the red suit moments before taking a seat on his lap.

So his father, Senior Airman Randall Tompkins, obliged.

And others, like Billy and Julie Mitchell, said they would wait "all night" to tell their hero what they wanted for Christmas.

"He's gonna bring me cars. I just know it," Billy said. "My teacher said I've been really good in school."

Julie shook her head.

"Don't ask for cars," she said. "Ask for an X-Box."

The children's mother, Anna, started laughing.

"Everyone has their own list, Julie," she said. "That's kind of the point of Christmas."

But the evening wasn't only about those who wanted an audience with Santa or a horse-drawn carriage.

For 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jeannie Leavitt, it was also a chance to remind the men and women she is charged with leading to look out for one another during a time of year that, for some, can be difficult to endure.

"Remember, we're an Air Force family," she said. "We take care of each other."