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Fallen tree changes Christmas tradition

The removal of the “Christmas tree” from the Crowell Hall lawn during spring break has left the future of Biola’s annual tree lighting ceremony up in the air.


The bark-beetle-infested tree was nearly dead and posed a potential risk of limbs breaking and falling into the nearby walkway, said senior director of facilities management Brian Phillips.

“It’s been a pretty steady state of decline over the last several years. It looks good when it’s lit up at night ‘cause all you see are the lights, but during the daytime it was looking like more of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” Phillips said.

The tree was cut down the morning of April 21. Matthew Weathers, assistant professor of math and computer science, posted a video on Facebook of the tree falling.

Alumni and Parent Relations is currently considering many possibilities of where and how Biola will hold the ceremony this December, said manager of advancement events Deannah Baesel. Possibilities include replacing the tree by Crowell, renting a tree or using an artificial Christmas tree.

“Ultimately, we want to keep Tree Lighting true to its traditions while accommodating as many guests as we can,” Baesel said.

Baesel is open to hearing feedback and ideas about the event from students, she said.

“I see huge potential to upgrade the Tree Lighting Ceremony to something that more of the Biola community can enjoy. Who knows what that will be right now, but I look forward to something great,” Baesel said.

This is not the first time the tree ceremony has changed, Baesel said. Biola has hosted the tree lighting ceremony for over 25 years, during which time the ceremony moved from under the Bell Tower to the Crowell lawn.


Students expressed frustration about the seemingly sudden removal of the tree.

“It was kind of upsetting for it to be cut down without an announcement,” said junior art major Erin Jeffries.

Jeffries said she understood that the tree was ill and needed to be removed.

“It didn’t look so great anyways ... minor change, not a big deal,” Jeffries said.

For some, the tree held more meaning than just a piece of the Biola landscape. One of junior communication disorders major Kerry Paxton’s first dates with his now wife, Rosemead student Aundrea Paxton, was at the 2012 Christmas Tree Lighting with the Crowell tree. They returned to the 2013 ceremony and planned to make the event a tradition. Kerry said he was shocked to see the tree falling in Weathers’ video.

“Even though I’m sure they’ll have the program again, it won’t be the same,” Paxton said.

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