Photo: Students pose with campus Christmas tree during 2011 ceremony
Santa will make his big appearance during the campus Christmas party and lighting ceremony scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, November 29, 2012, via Powder, Shine, and a little-known mode of campus transportation.
Powder and Shine, of the Hardin-Simmons University Six White Horses, will be guiding Santa to the campus in a vehicle not typically associated with Santa, the HSU carriage. Yes, there really is an HSU carriage!
Director of the Six White Horses Team, Debbie Jones, says she purchased what she fondly calls “the buggy” for the team several years ago for occasions such as this. She has chosen two of the 15 Six White Horses to guide Santa on his buggy as he enters the campus via the Hickory Street entrance.
She says the trick with the horses and buggy is getting it from the Grape Street “Doc” Beasley Six White Horses complex to the campus entrance at the pond, “So I may have to do some strategic cutting across the campus lawn to get them there,” she says.
The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with a Christmas buffet feast for students, faculty, and staff in the dining area in Moody Center. Kathy Diamond, head of ARAMARK dining services at HSU, says the large feast is a perk of having a meal plan. If students don't have a plan, the meal can be paid for at the door. Employees and spouses eat free.
The party around the central pond and in the 60’x60’ event tent will follow the campus lighting ceremony that is 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 week 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 100,000.
McCarry gives credit to HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall for the extensive lighting of the campus. “We light up all of the buildings around the pond, light the trees, and light the buildings along Linebery Boulevard leading to the clock tower,” he says. “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, which is lit with purple and gold. McCarry says the tree was donated for that specific purpose. “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 official Christmas tree for the campus.”New this year will be an interactive movie. HSU special events coordinator, Leianne McMillan, says, “We are watching Elf on the lawn. We are going to make it interactive... meaning at certain points in the movie, special things will happen, like anytime the word ‘candy cane’ is said, someone will throw out candy canes, etc.” She says there will also be the usual snacks provided by the faculty and staff, a hot chocolate bar, trail mix bar, and a photo booth and pictures with Santa.
The public is invited to the campus to watch the lighting ceremony and to welcome Santa.