News Item

Hundreds Celebrate Lander’s Holiday Tree Lighting

November 30, 2016

 Tree Lighting 2016

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Rainy weather did not dampen the holiday festivities at Lander University on Tuesday night (Nov. 29), as about 600 gathered on campus for the 2nd annual Holiday Tree Lighting celebration.

After monitoring the weather forecast of a much-needed rainfall for the extremely dry region, organizers decided to move most of the activities inside the Grier Student Center.

“Once the decision was made to move the event indoors, we went into action to setup and decorate the new location,” said Randy Bouknight, vice president for Student Affairs. “It was a major undertaking, but our staff put in a lot of hard work and hours to get everything in place on such a tight deadline.”

In addition to building gingerbread houses, decorating ornaments and ice skating, guests enjoyed the sounds of brass instruments and harmonies of local high school and university choirs singing from the balcony above the festivities. Musical performances included the University Singers, Old Main Singers, Greenwood High School Choir, Emerald High School Choir and the Lander Student Brass Ensemble.

Outside the student center, the clippity-clop sounds of hooves and jingling sleigh bells created a nostalgic scene as guests discovered a pair of beautifully decorated horse-drawn carriages. Guided by drivers dressed in top hats and old-fashioned attire, students and families climbed into the elegant coaches and relaxed while being carried around the university’s campus.

Following the indoor activities, nearly 200 of the celebrants gathered outside at a 40 foot Atlantic Blue Spruce on the lawn of Chipley Hall. The crowd counted down as Lander’s first lady, Jessica Cosentino, stepped forward to officially light the tree.

“We had a lot of positive comments about the celebration,” noted Bouknight. “Everyone enjoyed the festivities, from the carriage rides to the tacky sweater contest. It was a success.”

In continuing the goodwill initiatives of the university, those enjoying the event brought unwrapped toys and non-perishable food items for the disadvantaged in the community. Collection boxes were available at the event.

The evening concluded with the Lander Wind Ensemble’s “Fa-La-La Christmas Concert,” in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium.