Hastings College embraced the holiday spirit with Lighting of the Campus sponsored by the Student Alumni Association (SAA). Students, faculty, staff and community members filled the French Memorial Chapel on Monday, Nov. 28 to watch student musicians perform, listen to a traditional Christmas story, sing Christmas carols and witness as the Christmas lights across campus were turned on.
Melodious Thunk, a student jazz combo, formally opened the evening, followed by juniors Karli Cabrera and Jordan Johnson with a vocal-piano arrangement of a Christmas carol mash-up. 1-2-5, the men’s a capella group, finished off the live music acts with a Christmas-themed set.
1-2-5 makes a regular appearance at Lighting of the Campus, but SAA reached out to Cabrera, Johnson and Melodious Thunk this year to expand on the live performances for the event.
“We thought it would be cool to not only showcase their talents, but also provide something new for Lighting of the Campus,” said Ryan Miller, SAA president.
President Don Jackson then read “The Night Before Christmas.” Students and children from the community gathered at the foot of his chair as he shared the traditional holiday story with the crowd.
It is a tradition of the event for the HC president to read a Christmas story at Lighting of the Campus; Jackson has filled this role for four years, and 2016 was his last.
“I think the fact that it was Don Jackson’s last year made it kind of special. One, because I’m a senior and it our last year together, and [two], because he brings the book that he got for his daughter, which is such a personal touch,” said Abbey Tiell, senior and four-time attendee of Lighting of the Campus. “I think he really does enjoy this tradition, and I think he has a lot of fun with the pop-up book.”
After Jackson finished “The Night Before Christmas,” Dr. Fritz Mountford, professor of music and director of choral, led the crowd in singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Silent Night,” and “Jingle Bells.” Miller, Tiell and SAA Sponsor Molly Johnsen each commented that singing Christmas carols with the HC their favorite part of the event.
“There is not a person in the room that is not singing because everyone likes it, and it’s fun,” Tiell said.
Attendees then filed outside of the chapel to watch as Miller flipped the ceremonial switch to simultaneously activate all the Christmas lights on campus. The lights are hung by the Maintenance Department in the weeks prior to the event, and their work helps make Lighting of the Campus a reality, Johnsen said.
The evening ended with a reception hosted by SAA. Students gathered in the Daugherty Center to partake in cookies, hot cocoa and cider, as well as snap photos with Santa Claus.
Lighting of the Campus is an important tradition at HC because it brings the campus community together to celebrate the holiday season, Johnsen said.