By Matt Gillis
Loyola University Chicago hosted its annual tree lighting ceremony Tuesday evening as a way to bring the Loyola community together to kick off the Christmas holiday.
Hundreds of Loyola students, faculty, and staff gathered in the university’s Centennial Forum Student Union to witness the lighting of the 16-foot Christmas tree, accompanied by a blessing and a student performance by Loyolacapella. The holiday event also featured fondue provided by Chicago Chocolate Company, a ginger bread house making station, and a surprise visit from Santa Claus.
One student, Gina Vujovic, 19, a freshman biology major, said the event was the perfect opportunity to relieve herself from the stress of the upcoming finals week.
“Every time my friends and I see an event on campus, we usually go to it,” Vujovic said. “Tonight’s tree lighting was the perfect place to go to have fun with a bunch of friends, away from school work. The free food doesn’t hurt either.”
Kim Latosa, 19, a freshman nursing major, agreed that enjoying the spirit of the holiday is a great way to relax.
“Events like this one are a fun way to bring all of the Loyola community together,” Latosa said. “It’s also making me look forward to spending the holidays with my family.”
Meng-Jia Wu, 39, a research methodology professor at Loyola, brought her 3-year-old son, Henry, to the ceremony to get into the holiday spirit.
“My son goes to Loyola Preschool, and I teach here, so I thought it was perfect to start off the Christmas season with the Loyola community,” Wu said.
The event also had Henry looking forward to his holiday favorites.
“I can’t wait for Christmas,” Henry said. “My favorite parts are Santa and cookies.”
Bryan Goodwin, Director of Lake Shore Campus student centers at Loyola, organized the event, and explained why it continues every year.
“More than ever before, Loyola is putting a premium on traditions,” Goodwin said. “This tree lighting ceremony is one of those events that brings the Loyola community together, from those in Loyola’s preschool and day care, to Loyola’s students and staff. It shows everyone what Loyola is made of—tradition.”