Merry and bright

Alumni Way illuminates for the holidays.

President Fayneese Miller speaks about thankfulness at the Lighting of the Trees.

Madelaine Formica, Reporter

The sun slowly faded on the cold Thursday night, causing the air to nip at bare hands and cheeks, but no one seemed to care as the holiday season started. One at a time the trees along Alumni Way flickered to light. Three booths were set up in front of the entrance of Anderson, serving hot chocolate and cookies for students, faculty and families filling everyone with holiday spirit.

At 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, the five trees wrapped in lights along Alumni Way came to life. To witness the event, students began to gather, enjoying the refreshments. Free were passed out as the masses shivered with whip cream piled high in their steaming cups.

A variety of toppings were laid out for the hot chocolate. Chocolate chips, sprinkles and caramel sauce cascaded into the whip cream, making the hot chocolate stands outside of Anderson and inside the cafeteria a wonderland.

“I liked how you could make your own hot chocolate and how there were so many different toppings,” first-year Cassia Egan-Lawless said. 

  President Fayneese Miller tied the celebration together with a speech about family and being thankful for all that we have. Seeing how cold everyone was, Miller smiled at the crowd, “I’m actually warm,” she said. “It’s a state of mind. The sun always shines on this university.”

Even after Miller finished her speech, the crowd stayed in the cold air to share in the spirit of the holidays together. Students bent down to pet the dogs brought by a faculty member and their family. Group pictures were taken of smiling faces, other students being urged to join in. 

Christmas music started to play, mixing with the laughter and conversation that commenced. Stress from approaching finals seemed to disappear from the crowd as the festivities melted all remembrance of work and schedules away.

The little twinkling trees along Alumni Way were beautiful in the night, but the large fern tree, which had been lit in the past, was missed by those whose tradition was to share in the joy of the tree lighting ceremony. 

“It’s been a Hamline tradition for so long and I don’t think anyone had a say in it not happening this year, it just didn’t happen. I was really disappointed. They should do lights in addition to the Christmas tree. I feel like something’s missing on campus with the tree not being there,” junior Rebecca Rosario said.

The tree lighting was founded around 2005 by former-President Linda Hanson. For the past years the ceremony has been by the Bishop, the lights wrapping around a full evergreen tree. This year, Miller moved the tree lighting to Alumni Way because it’s a more centralized location, and according to Miller’s executive assistant, Jane Telleen, they thought having many different trees line Alumni Way would be more appealing. In addition, there were complications last year, when the tree which was used froze, not allowing maintenance to remove it until the spring when it defrosted.

Because of the feedback that was received by students, Miller has decided that there will be a large Christmas tree next year.