Isabella Abbott | Features Editor
Nov. 17, 2022
Despite the rainy, wet night, students, staff, alumni and children waited patiently underneath Mellon Patio for Duquesne’s annual night of lights to sparkle across A-Walk on Friday.
This year, instead of President Ken Gormley flipping the switch, five eager children were selected to be the campus light masters on Friday evening. As each of their names was called up to brighten up the campus, their smiles filled Duquesne’s A-Walk with Christmas spirit. From afar, Santa and Mrs. Claus stood in awe as the lights appeared after a loud countdown from 10 by the rest of the crowd.
As the light switch was turned on, students were able to watch as trees and buildings alike were illuminated. An applause could be heard just as the dark night became a little more festive and brighter.
Before any lights were shining throughout campus, Student Government Association President Jessica Schmitz addressed the crowd and thanked them for attending this year’s event, even with the weather conditions.
Schmitz emphasized the importance of relaxing and enjoying time spent with others during her speech.
“Our students, faculty and administrators, you’re constantly ongoing, constantly being asked to produce work,” Schmitz said. “Which is great but having a chance to stop and really enjoy time with the people you’re closest to is so important.”
After Schmitz talked, Father Bill Christy led the attentive crowd in a prayer. He said the light still shines in the darkness and that the darkness can never extinguish it.
“As lights are lit with joy on our campus in this holiday season, let there be light within our hearts as well,” Christy said.
Although the event came a little earlier than the beginning of the Christmas season, Adam Wasilko, the Dean of Students, said that since Target had Christmas trees out since Nov. 1, that it wasn’t too early to have Duquesne’s celebration of lights.
To fit the Christmas theme, not only was there a horse and carriage ride for students to participate in, but there was also a slew of different indoor activities and events to enjoy as well in the Africa Room, which was turned into Santa’s workshop for the night.
Here, organizations like the American Sign Language (ASL) Club helped students, staff and children make crafts, snowmen, marshmallows and ornaments.
The ASL club made reindeer food with cut-out hands as antlers that were folded into the phrase ‘I love you’ in sign language. For this activity, all students had to do was follow the ‘magic recipe’, which included grabbing oats and sprinkles, putting it into a bag, and adding a pom-pom nose and googly eyes, with the final touch being the antlers.
President of Duquesne’s ASL club, Sara Tuddenham, said she was excited for herself and others to make the reindeer food.
“So far we’ve had a good turnout,” Tuddenham said. “We’re expecting some more children to come up and make some.”
Other organizations, like the Duquesne University Physical Therapy Association (DUPTA), had a table where students could decorate their own gingerbread-shaped sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles galore.
Member of the DUPTA, Melanie Tommer, said their table provided fun for everyone.
“We just wanted to bring some cheer to this and who doesn’t love cookie decorating?” Tommer said. “People are coming in, there’s some good artists here and it’s just been a great time.”
Once students finished crafting, they could join their friends in taking photos on the third floor of the Union. An array of different colored Santa hats, sparkly boas, antler headbands, wreath glasses and Christmas-themed signs were up for grabs during the pop-up snowflake-decorated photo booth. Once the photos were taken, students were also able to receive a printed copy of their creation.
For the children, Santa and Mrs. Clause had a pop-up photo event as well in the Office of Freshman Development, room 309. Here, little ones were able to walk through a Christmas decoration-filled hallway and into the room, which featured a cozy fireplace adorned with a stocking, the Clauses themselves and an array of small decorated and lit-up trees.
After crafting and enjoying some desserts and photos, students were then invited to enjoy a holiday-themed dinner on the fourth floor of the Union filled with hundreds of cupcakes, sugar and pumpkin-decorated cookies along with Christmas dishes like mac-and-cheese, bread rolls and delicious ham.
The Night of Lights provided Duquesne students with a much-needed break from their studies and a warm and cozy feeling of the upcoming holidays.