The Holiday Lights ceremony at ETSU had another successful and uplifting year, bringing hundreds of people together to celebrate the holiday season.
The event took place Monday, Nov. 12, at Burgin Dossett Hall on campus. Hot chocolate and cookies were enjoyed by all who came to see the elaborate lights on campus officially turned on in honor of the holidays.
Stacey Miller, who is the special event coordinator for the university, said the Holiday Lights event is a way to get the ETSU community excited for the holidays.
“It’s to kick off the holiday season here on campus,” Miller said. “We get the University School involved as well as the student government association. It’s just our way of kicking things off.”
An estimated 300 people came together to watch as the lights were turned on. Children were greeted by Santa and ETSU’s mascot, Bucky, who were both present for the event.
“We’ve had a great crowd,” Miller said. “A lot of families from the University School come over. We average about 300 people at the event, which is pretty close to what we have tonight.”
Although the event takes place in November, Miller explains that setting up decorations and lights around campus happens long before, taking weeks of preparation.
“The event has been going on for about four years,” Miller said. “They put the lights up weeks ago. It’s facilities doing all the set up.”
To help heighten the joyful holiday vibe, ETSU’s Gospel Choir began the event by singing holiday and gospel tunes.
“Since I’ve been planning it, this is the Gospel Choir’s first year singing at the event,” Miller said.
Jimmy Young, director of the university’s Gospel Choir, led his group in singing renditions of various holiday and gospel music that he chose specifically for the event.
“When we got the invitation to come and sing, they told us they wanted holiday music,” Young said. “It took us two weeks and two rehearsals. We definitely had to prepare quickly.”
Because they are a gospel choir, Young wanted to put his personal touch to classic holiday songs. The choir performed a mash up of songs such as “Silent Night” mixed with “Carol of the Bells,” ending with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to close.
“I wanted to incorporate a little bit of gospel tune mixed with holiday music,” Young said. “That’s where we got the songs we chose to do tonight.”
While preparing to perform, Young wanted to add to the tradition of the Holiday Lights and make sure people really enjoyed themselves at the event.
“For this event specifically, we just wanted to come out and give everybody a little bit of Christmas joy and a little bit of Christmas spirit from our own rendition of how we do it,” Young said.
ETSU President Brian Noland attended the event, thanking all who have kept this event alive and possible in the years it has been going on at ETSU.
“Thank you all for being here to continue what is an absolutely wonderful tradition at East Tennessee State University,” Noland said.