More than 200,000 Twinkling Lights to Kick-off the Christmas Season at HSU
All-School Christmas Party and tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, December 5, 2013, at Hardin-Simmons University.
The evening starts at 5 p.m. with a Christmas buffet feast for students, faculty/staff, and family members in the dining area in Moody Center. The party around HSU’s central pond and in the 60’x60’ event tent will follow the campus lighting set to happen around 6:30 p.m.
The tree lighting ceremony is a long-honored tradition at HSU. Facilities services director, Tim McCarry, says maintenance workers and a local tree-lighting service started stringing the buildings and trees with light strands several weeks ago. “It takes at least a solid three weeks to string all of the lights. Our goal is to be 99% done by Thanksgiving,” says McCarry. He admits that he doesn’t know the exact number of bulbs that light the campus, but says it’s easily over 200,000.
Christmas lighting has been added to more and more campus buildings over the years and now includes all of the buildings around the central pond on Hickory Street and most of the buildings on Cedar Street through the campus.
McCarry gives credit to HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall for the extensive lighting of the campus. “We light all of the buildings around the pond, light the trees, and light the buildings along Linebery Boulevard leading to the clock tower,” says McCarry. “When I came here as a student in 1983, the campus lit a big Christmas tree. Sometime during the first administration of Dr. Hall, we started lighting the buildings. That was probably around 1993-94,” remembers McCarry. “Several years ago, we added lights to the trees.”
One interesting side note, all of the campus lights are white except for the Christmas tree and the First-Responders Tree. The First Responders Tree is covered with the traditional blue bulbs and is located near Ambler Avenue, while the Christmas tree is lit with purple and gold lights.
In 2011 HSU established the First Responders Tree in response to Mayor Norm Archibald’s request for residents of Abilene to honor fallen heroes and first responders by placing Blue Hero Lights in windows during the Christmas season. The mayor’s request was precipitated by the death of Rodney Holder, a motorcycle police officer who died in a traffic accident on Sayles Boulevard in 2010.
McCarry says the official campus Christmas tree was donated specifically for that reason. “The family of Don Hill donated the tree after Don passed away with cancer. Don was a maintenance worker in charge of the campus mill shop who really enjoyed the campus tree lighting,” says McCarry. “The tree had to grow four or five years before it was big enough for the lights, but it is the designated Christmas tree for the campus.”
Brittany Suell, HSU student activities coordinator, says the HSU Freshman Activities Team has spent a lot of hours planning for the party and has met at least once per week since school started in August. Suell says there will be plenty of snacks and hot beverages. There is also a Trail Mix bar for people to make and take with them, a cookie decorating area, long-sleeved Christmas party t-shirts for sale and the Cooper High School show choir will perform. Suell says there is also a real photo booth for pictures with Santa (an HSU student volunteer).