By Nick Passarelli
A crowd of Loyola University Chicago students, faculty, staff, community members and more gathered Thursday night, filling the university’s Centennial Forum Student Union (CFSU) for the annual tree lighting ceremony and Christmas celebration.
The holiday-themed event, organized by the Division of Student Development and the Department of Student Centers, started with the illumination of a large Christmas tree in the middle CFSU at 5 p.m. Afterward, the celebration featured winter food and drink staples, a performance of holiday songs by student a capella group Loyolacapella, and a visit from Santa Claus.
Bryan Goodwin, Director of Lake Shore Campus student centers at Loyola, organized and facilitated the holiday gathering, explaining why the event has become so popular.
“What’s great about this event is that people who are just walking through the union—they attend,” Goodwin said. “It’s a fusion between families of Loyola, staff, faculty, you name it—and students.”
A combination of these categories herself, Dr. Grace Calhoun, Director of Athletics at Loyola, came to event with her husband and three daughters, representing the roles of staff and parent. Calhoun explained that she was there to celebrate both the festivities and the sense of community fostered by the event.
“I love the fact that Loyola does so many things like this to really have a great sense of campus community,” Calhoun said. “I’ve been at six institutions and Loyola does the best job I’ve seen at really involving students, as well as faculty and staff, in feeling like they’re all a part of the broader community.”
As for Calhoun’s youngest daughter Madeline, age 3, she had two specific reasons for coming to the ceremony.
“Santa and chocolate,” she said.
Jennifer Landes, 19, a freshman biochemistry major at Loyola, agreed with Calhoun that the ceremony seemed to connect the different members of the Loyola community.
“I think it’s important to have this type of event on campus,” said Landes. “It feels like it brings a happiness and a sense of unity at Loyola because everyone is together celebrating the holiday season.”
Landes, however, also agreed with Calhoun’s daughter Madeline for the reason she decided to attend.
“We’re here for the food,” she said.