Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony sparks Christmas spirit


Photo credit/ Ali Sidiki

Amanda Duncklee and Ali Sidiki

Members of the Marywood and local community gathered in the Rotunda of the Liberal Arts Center for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday Dec. 2.

Members of the Marywood University Chamber Singers and the Marywood University Brass Quartet performed for those in attendance.

This year, Marywood also live streamed the event on the Marywood website for those who were unable to attend in person. Those who wished to view the event electronically had the option to go to Marywood’s homepage to view the ceremony.

Melissa Kowalski, junior international business and Spanish major and president of Student Government Administration, called the audience to attention and called various clubs to decorate the tree with ornaments representing the clubs.

Sophomore early special education major Erin Fusco said that this is her second time attending the lighting and added that it is one of her favorite events on campus.

“All of the clubs come together and put their respective ornaments on the tree; it’s such a good feeling for all of us to be united under one roof,” said Fusco.

Following Kowalski’s introduction, Fr. Joseph Elston, chaplain of Marywood, offered a prayer.

“Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation,” he said. “Let your blessing come upon this tree we illuminate today.”

“Throughout the holiday season, many neighbors come. It’s a way of celebrating with the whole community; it’s part of the heart of Marywood. I hope whoever is here takes away a message of hope and joy,” said Sister Anne Munley, IHM, Ph.D, president of Marywood University.

Geralyn Vecerkauskas, who graduated in 2003 with a degree in elementary and special education, mentioned that she recently became a regular at the lighting event.

“I love bringing my kids here,” said Vecerkauska. “They have such a good time.”

Under the direction of Dr. Hoffenberg, the music, theater, and dance department co-chair, the Marywood University Chamber Singers performed songs while waiting for the tree lighting and led a sing-along after the tree was lit.

“This is fun because it’s a sing-along, not a performance,” said Hoffenberg. “We hand out sheets for all to sing. It’s about a sense of community and togetherness- we want to get everyone involved here.”

“Perhaps the most striking part of the ceremony is the community’s reception of the event.

Assistant Professor of English Dr. Lauren Esposito and Junior Medical Technology Major William Weiss both attended the event for the first time.

“It’s my final year here and this time I took a break from homework and studying to attend the lighting,” said Weiss. “I’ve seen pictures from past lightings and have been fascinated, so I decided to attend it in person this year,” he added.

“I enjoyed the tree lighting tremendously,” said Esposito. “I thought it was a very festive occasion.”

Event veterans keep on coming back to the Rotunda year after year for an early sprinkle of Christmas cheer.

Junior Health and Physician Education Major Katrina Kelly said that she liked how everyone from around campus came together “like a family.”

“The lighting is like a mini version of New York City. The energy here is so mesmerizing and everyone is in holiday mood,” she noted.

Associate Professor of English Dr. Helen Bittel has gone to the Ceremony for the past 10 years with her daughter, Everly.

For 9-year-old Everly, the food is her favorite part and her favorite cookie is “whichever one has the most sugar.”

“We’ve come every year since she was an infant,” said Bittel. “I love listening to the Chamber Singers and of course I love the tradition and the community as well as sharing this event with my daughter.”

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