University Christmas Tree Lighting a growing campus tradition
On Friday, Dec. 7, the annual University Christmas Tree Lighting will take place at 7 p.m. in front of Crowell Hall. At this year’s event, various changes are being made to the traditional lineup, including the addition of a canned food drive and a revamped Christmas fair.
Changes from last year's event
“The canned food drive is kind of a new thing,” said Associated Students’ senior vice president, Ryan Freudenburg, a senior majoring in business management. In years past, the Christmas tree lighting has put on other charity events, such as sock and blanket drives. But this year, students will receive an ornament to decorate in exchange for a donation of $1 or one can of food.
Another change to the event comes in the form of a Christmas fair put on by AS. Although the fair also occurred at last year’s tree lighting, it is expected to be an even larger event this year. It will include Christmas crafts, such as cookie decorating, and a photo booth in front of the newly constructed outdoor fireplace. It will also feature an “International House of Drinks” put on by the International Student Association, in which Christmas drinks from around the world will be shared. The fair will take place from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Commons breezeway on the same day as the tree lighting.
“The Christmas fair is definitely growing,” said Deannah Baesel, the manager of advancement events. “It’s a great way to kick off the Christmas season.”
The combined events cost “fractions of pennies” per person, according to Baesel, because many of the services, like the decorating of the tree, are performed for free by Biola’s own staff. This allows Biola “to bless a lot of people [while using] very little money.”
Tree lighting encourages community between students and alumni
While the Christmas fair continues to expand and become more diverse, much of the tree lighting ceremony remains the same. The traditions that students and alumni know and love — the reading of the Christmas story from Luke, the hot chocolate and the candlelit hymns — remain the same.
“It’s a fun little event, and the Christmas tree is so beautiful,” said sophomore art major Caitlin Helms. “It gets the community together.”
The occasion is a joint effort between Alumni Relations and Associated Students that invites Biolans both past and current to intermingle.
“It’s important for alumni to have connections with students...because students are [essentially] alumni in residence,” said Baesel, adding that occasions like this encourage students to return to campus long after they’ve graduated and continue to be part of the Biola community.
The tree lighting is very popular among alumni, many of whom return to see it year after year. Tickets for the 200-person dinner scheduled for the evening of the event were sold out within one weekend.
“It’s a community event,” said Freudenburg. “[Alumni Relations] partners with us to get the students more involved.”
Between 2,500 and 3,000 people, alumni and students combined, are expected to turn out Friday night for the tree lighting.