COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A special moment happened in Mountain Shadows Sunday night to kick off the holiday season. Neighbors gathered for the second annual Mountain Shadows Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
What's more important this year is that more than 70 percent of the homes lost in the Waldo Canyon Fire are now rebuilt or are being rebuilt. For many families, this will be the first Christmas in their new homes.
A Christmas tree is a symbol of the holiday season, but for one crowd outside the Wilson United Methodist Church in Mountain Shadows, a Christmas tree in their neighborhood means so much more.
"It's a light for the community," said Waldo Canyon Fire victim Jean Timmons.
"It is a mark of where I am, where I was last year. It's even a mark of where I was the December before the fire," said Waldo Canyon Fire victim Gloria Horne.
12 homeowners represented the Waldo Canyon Fire victims who have since rebuilt. They are all celebrating Christmas this year in their new homes.
"It's sort of a new beginning because this is really out first Christmas in our house. It's just a new beginning for us and for the whole community," said Timmons.
Wilson United Methodist Church along with Colorado Springs Together hosted the ceremony. Carolers got everyone in the holiday spirit. They also prayed, thankful Mountain Shadows has come so far 17 months after a fire destroyed their neighborhood.
"I love what has happened, but I hated what happened," said Horne. "This community with the help of Colorado Springs has rallied and it's been really impressive."
"Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year," said Barry Timmons.
Timmons can now enjoy his favorite time again.
"Everybody coming together, that's just symbolic of what's in the future and our hope and togetherness and working together," said Timmons.
"That tree will be something that I will be able to look at and get me with through this night and through this season and onto the New Year," said Horne.
The church handed out ornaments to neighbors after the ceremony: a symbol of hope families can display in their homes on their own Christmas trees.