Point Loma Nazarene University’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting event is a time where students, faculty and staff come together to enjoy live music, treats, activities and the lighting of a Christmas tree. The event took place on Dec. 6 on Caf Lane and there was a turn out of approximately 70 people.
The Associated Student Body (ASB) puts on this event every year. Their coffee cart “ASBeans” made an appearance and provided students with free coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
Charlie Wilson, a third-year media communications major, was the head of the Christmas tree lighting committee for the campus activities board (CAB) that made it all happen.
CAB is a group of students in charge of helping plan, set up and tear down student body events, according to one of the members, Emery Mundis, a second-year philosophy major on the pre-med track.
CAB was split into several committees where each committee focused on a different event throughout the fall semester.
According to Wilson, his committee began planning for this event at the beginning of the semester.
“The first step [in the preparation process] was getting the tree lined up. Once we had that done we got all of our decorations and music lined up,” Wilson said.
Getting the Christmas tree onto Caf Lane was a struggle. They got the tree onto campus on Dec. 3, and it took them a few hours to successfully set it up right, according to Wilson.
Wilson said his hope for this event was to create a space of joy and fellowship for PLNU students.
“[We wanted] to give everyone a break right before finals started with food and music. I think we succeeded,” Wilson said.
Anna Engels, a second-year applied health major, attended the event and appreciated how this time brought the community of PLNU together to officially begin the holiday season.
“I love the feeling of community that the Christmas tree lighting brings to the [PLNU] campus. It’s a time when the whole student body comes together to celebrate Christmas,” Engels said.
Before the tree lighting, a children’s choir from The First Church of the Nazarene performed a few holiday songs.
During this time, attendees of the event were able to participate in crafts such as creating ornaments, writing Christmas cards and making care packages with the Homeless Ministries on campus.
CAB member Mundis found that the children’s choir was a crucial part in making the whole event a place of joy and Christmas spirit.
“[The choir] helped bring focus to why we even celebrate the Christmas season. The kids helped incorporate the community onto Point Loma’s campus,” Mundis said. “This event was meant to bring joy and celebration to all those around us and the kids’ willingness to perform made that happen.”
After the children’s choir performance, ASB put on a performance of their own.
Members of the board dressed up as characters in the scene of Jesus’ birth including Mary, Joseph, shepherds and the wisemen to illustrate what Christmas is really about.
“I thought the performance was fun. Especially since there were still kids around from the choir that seemed to really enjoy it,” Engels said.
The time finally came for the countdown of the tree lighting after ASB’s performance.
PLNU President, Bob Brower, faced the crowd and began counting down from 10 seconds.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
The tree that stood elegantly after hours of preparation lit up and students cheered.
With the freshly lit tree, Noël Tsoukalas, a third-year commercial music major at PLNU, led the song “Silent Night” while students sang along and lit their candles.
After the candle ceremony, Tsoukalas and her band performed a few familiar Christmas songs.
Engels’ favorite part of the event was Tsoukalas’ performance of “Silent Night.”
“It’s something that I really associate with Christmas starting, so it’s always one of my favorite things about the Christmas season in general,” Engels said.
As it was her first time performing at the lighting, Tsoukalas said she was honored for the opportunity.
“I loved how many people came and how everyone just danced and had fun during finals season,” Tsoukalas said. “I haven’t done a Christmas before, so it was new for me. I got to choose all of my favorite Christmas songs and added a keys and sax player to the band.”
Brynlee Grose, a second-year psychology major, is a friend of Tsoukalas. According to Grose, she was already a fan of Tsoukalas’ music, so watching her perform live at the event was a sentimental experience.
“I especially loved this performance because her [Tsoukalas’] song selection is amazing and she makes every song sound better than the original,” Grose said.