HANAU, Germany — The sentiments expressed by Sherry Lea just about summed up the feelings of many in the crowd.

“They’re home,” Lea said as the brief “Welcome Home” ceremony for the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division concluded Friday afternoon. “They’re home. Fifteen months is a long time. It’s wonderful to have them home.”

Organizers knew better than to let the formal ceremony run long. A party beckoned, one that promised cold beverages, hot food, warm salutes and a cool band with a cool name — The Mavericks.

Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the division commander, even noted in his remarks he didn’t plan to keep his charges standing at attention for too long. There’s been enough of that. Besides, he said, the beer tent was waiting for thirsty customers.

“Enjoy yourself today,” Dempsey said as he looked out across the airfield at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. “You’ve earned it.”

Army officials in Friedberg and Giessen held a similar party Wednesday, and Baumholder preceded that blowout with one the week before. The division is planning a division-level wingding for Oct. 7 in Wiesbaden.

“It feels great, though a bit overwhelming,” said 1st Sgt. Zaifuddin “Dean” Graves of Troop C, 1st Squadron, 1st U.S. Cavalry, Büdingen, Germany.

The kids also took a shine to some of the extracurricular activities, which included face-painting, magicians, pony rides, trains and trampolines.

“Anything they do that have the kids involved is awesome,” Tara Cherizard said as she kept an eye on daughter, Abby, and son, Akeem.

Tara and her husband, Sgt. Fritzgerald Cherizard, had planned to stay well into the evening, though they weren’t sure if their kids, or themselves, for that matter, would last long enough to see the fireworks show.

“‘Survivor’ starts tonight,” Tara said of the popular CBS television show. Whether we stay “is a toss up. It’s the season premiere, but the kids may win out on this one.”

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