Valparaiso University’s Annual Tree Lighting celebrates togetherness, thankfulness, and holiday cheer

Valparaiso University’s Annual Tree Lighting celebrates togetherness, thankfulness, and holiday cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there was truly no better way to celebrate the upcoming holidays than Valparaiso University’s Annual Tree Lighting. On Tuesday, November 29, Valparaiso University invited students, alumni, faculty, and the entire Valpo community to come out to Harre Student Union and partake in some jolly festivities. 

The event was the perfect balance of fun, togetherness, and ultimately a wonderful opportunity for the community to show some gratitude for another happy holiday season. People laughed out loud as they took silly pictures in the photo booth and got their very own caricatures drawn. Parents munched on delicious Christmas cookies and sipped on hot chocolate while kids eagerly - or in other cases a bit warily - got their pictures taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. 

“It’s always so much fun seeing the kids run up because they’re so excited. I just love the kids who have that magic in their hearts, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a big kid, you can have that magic in your heart too and keep Christmas alive,” said Mrs. Claus, whose alter ego is Jennifer Jacob. 

Anand Agrawal, a senior and Presidential Student Ambassador at Valparaiso University, was part of the crew who helped put the event together. Not having many events like this back at home where he’s from, he explained how special an event like this is for the community. 

Valparaiso University Tree Lighting 2022

Valparaiso University Tree Lighting 2022 47 Photos
Valparaiso University Tree Lighting 2022Valparaiso University Tree Lighting 2022Valparaiso University Tree Lighting 2022Valparaiso University Tree Lighting 2022

“I think that was our biggest hope, that people could enjoy all the cookies and the atmosphere and just be together. It was great to see all the community members coming in because yes, we are a university and we have students, but it’s the community that makes us who we are. Just being able to see all the faculty, staff, their kids, and their families is what makes this so special,” said Agrawal. 

After enjoying all the activities, people headed outside to get ready for the tree lighting. 

Valparaiso University President José D. Padilla spoke a few words before the lighting and emphasized how meaningful it is that everyone, regardless of culture or faith, was able to gather and celebrate together as a community. 

“I am so stoked. Lighting this Christmas tree is one of my favorite traditions here. There are so many people gathered here tonight and that’s one of the great things about Valpo; we’re open to everybody, not just Christians, but people of all faiths, all traditions, all cultures. And I think that no matter what your culture is, no matter what your traditions are, or what your faith is, everybody loves a Christmas tree lighting. Everybody loves cookies and everybody loves hot chocolate, and this just gives everyone an opportunity to gather,” said Padilla. 

Padilla encouraged everyone to remember that Christmas is about joy, family, and giving. After Padilla shared his hopes that they all take some much-needed time to recharge after the semester ends, Pastor James Wetzstein led everyone in prayer. 

The tree was lit and people cheered as caroling and fireworks brought another Valparaiso University Tree Lighting to a successful close. There was no doubt on anyone’s smiling face that a strong sense of community and thankfulness had been achieved. 

“I hope they took away a stronger sense of Valpo community, I hope they took away some memories that they can cherish, and of course, I hope they all took plenty of free cookies and hot chocolate,” said Michael Fenton, Communications Manager. 

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