Fairfield kicked off the holiday season with their Third Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Students and Fairfield community members arrived near the tree outside the Ignatius Loyola Egan Chapel prior to the actual tree lighting and enjoyed provided cookies, gingerbread and sugar and hot chocolate. Attendees were offered Fairfield University Santa hats as well. Before the countdown to light the tree, Father Paul Rourke and president Mark Nemec, Ph.D. shared a few words with the community. After the tree was lit, there were festive performances by Fairfield’s a cappella groups Sweet Harmony and the Bensonians.
Fr. Rourke addressed those gathered around the tree and offered the event an opening blessing. He spoke about the hope and joy that comes with Christmas, as well as all holidays during this season. He wished everyone a happy new year before passing the microphone over to President Nemec.
“Fairfield as a modern university is committed to being a community institution,” President Nemec said. “And the fact that all of you have joined us here is a testament to that.”
Nemec continued to speak about the importance of community, and told those in attendance that he hopes they will continue to come together in such a way in the new year.
Jillian Casey ‘22 said, “It was great to see the Fairfield community to come together to celebrate Christmas before the stress of finals.”
Nemec then started a countdown from ten in which everyone joined, and then a red decorative light switch was pulled and the tree illuminated in colorful lights.
Immediately after the tree was lit, the women’s a cappella group on campus, Sweet Harmony, began singing “Deck the Halls.” They sang a couple of other songs, such as “Santa Tell Me,” by Ariana Grande. Then the men’s group, the Bensonians, sang a medley of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” before the two groups joined together for a final send-off song.
“It was such a great experience being able to sing on stage at the tree lighting with all of my ‘Sweets,’ Sweet Harmony friends, and with my sister, who is in the group,” said Madelyn Dutilly ‘22, a singer in Sweet Harmony. “It has been an honor being a part of the group and I’m so glad that there are going to be opportunities like this here.”
Students that didn’t perform also agreed about this event’s success.
“It was very nice to see the community and Fairfield students come together to start the holiday season and it was a nice break from homework and studying,” said Olivia Alessandro ‘22. “The tree is brighter than last year and I loved the singing!”
It wasn’t just the tree itself that made this event festive and fun for the students, but all of the extra details like the presence of Santa and Lucas the Stag, as well as the holiday treats that were available.
“The cookies were especially good this year, the hot chocolate was good sipping temperature, and everyone got Christmas hats!” Erin Patten ‘22 expressed via electronic message.