It's that time of year again! Valparaiso University held it's annual Tree Lighting on the evening of Thursday, December 4 from 4:30–7 p.m. Community members from across town congregated at VU's Harre Union in celebration of this joyous event.
The event offered a variety of opportunities; Community members had the chance to take a picture with Santa or with friends in the photo booth, enjoy caroling and refreshments, and watch as the tree is lit and fireworks burst over campus. University students were assisting throughout the program—some were dressed up as Santa's elves and others were helping set up the tree.
Valparaiso University Junior Betsy Yohannan stated, "The tree lighting event is all about uniting the community. It brings a lot of families to VU and it gives a chance for community members to familiarize themselves with the campus."
Not so fast! What's the holiday season without a little exercise? The Jingle Jog, a 1, 2, or 3 mile fun run, was held before the tree lighting. Participants were asked to bring a toy or non-perishable food item as their registration fee and all donations went to local families. People of all ages participated in the run.
Diane Noe, Operations Manager for the President's office, said, "This is the first year that we are hosting all of the events at the Union. In the past years we've held the event in the Christopher Center when the event was much smaller. The growth has been tremendous!"
Before lighting the tree, President of Valparaiso University Mark Heckler, Ph.D. addressed the community members who attended the event. In his speech, he thanked everyone for coming out and celebrating the beginning of the holiday season. Additionally, he compared to the students of VU to the lights on the Christmas tree. Soon after, fireworks ended off the night on a positive note.
Heckler said, "Every one of those lights on the tree represents us. When one of the lights on the tree is lit, it doesn't do very much. However, when all of the lights are lit, anything is possible."
It is evident that the event was a success, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate the holiday season. Be sure to check out the Christmas tree at Valparaiso University before the end of the holidays!