Duquesne lights up with Night of Lights celebration

Andrew Cummings | multimedia editor. Duquesne celebrates Night of Lights by decorating the campus with holiday decorations. This includes lights strung up on trees, a nativity set in front of the fountain by the Union steps, and various other decor that help make things festive.

Mary Liz Flavin | news editor

Nov. 18, 2021

Despite the first bitter winds of winter sweeping through A-Walk, students were filled with anticipation as they waited for a dazzling array of festive lights to appear across campus. Amid the excited crowd, the voices of carolers rang out in celebration. With a flip of the switch, President Ken Gormley kicked off the holiday season at the Night of Lights event on Nov. 12. 

Led by Gene Forish, director of music and liturgy, the carolers began the evening with a medley of holiday tunes. Before the lights appeared, several speakers addressed the crowd including Dean of Students Adam Wasilko, the Rev. Bill Christy and Student Government Association President Jessica Schmitz. 

The crowd was in awe of the decorative lights that lined A-Walk. Trees were strung with white lights and the fountains were a-glow. Various holiday decorations were illuminated as well as part of this initial event. 

Students were also invited to take a plate at the Holiday Feast, lend a hand in Santa’s workshop and venture on a horse-drawn carriage ride — harkening iconic elements of the Christmas season. 

Liam Grinnen, senator and co-chair for government operations in SGA, helped out with the carriage ride by making sure everyone got on and off safely. 

“I’m a huge fan. Little kids especially seem to enjoy it because they can hop up in the carriage and learn to ride a horse at the same time,” Grinnen said. 

Not only did smaller kids enjoy the ride, but Duquesne students like Celia Dugger and her friends joined in on the festivities as well.

“We went on the horse and carriage ride and it was really fun,” Dugger said. 

The horse and carriage was not the only ride students could partake in. Featured on A-walk was the “Holiday Express,” a miniature train that carried students from the Union to the end of the walk and back around. This allowed students to catch a glimpse of all the decorations and lights in a fun and festive way. 

Mitchell Fleischman, a freshman, went with a group of friends to the Night of Lights. 

“We were walking over to get food and weren’t expecting it, and we were like ‘wow, it’s the lights.’ Usually I would hate Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving, but this was done really well,” Fleischman said. 

After taking a look at the lights, students were invited to the holiday dinner located on the fourth floor of the Student Union. An array of food such as mac and cheese, chicken, ham, salad, bread rolls and more were spread out buffet style for many to enjoy. The desert table and hot drinks stand filled with cupcakes, cookies and hot cider left students in the holiday spirit. 

Duquesne student Cassie Waskiewicz said the event was much needed after this semester. 

“We were pleasantly surprised, it was really good,” Waskiewicz said. “I went back for seconds, this was definitely much needed after the past few weeks.”

Not only did students enjoy the festive dinner and other holiday themed activities, but staff did as well. Jazmyn Palmer, a cashier for the event, said this was a nice way for students and families to come together before the holidays. 

“I actually enjoyed it,” Palmer said. “I love how they had Santa Claus and a horse and carriage for the kids and parents. I love how its alumni and family throughout the event, I don’t think I’ve seen that at a college.” 

Once students finished their meals they could walk to the Africa Room where it had been transformed into Santa’s Workshop. Here, members of the Student Orientation Staff helped kids and students alike with various crafts such as make-your-own reindeer mix and a coloring station filled with holiday characters of their choosing. 

In addition to the workshop, students took turns wearing an assortment of Christmas and holiday themed props where they posed for pictures. Reindeer antlers, Santa hats, and green boas adorned the table by the pop-up photo station located on the third floor by the Information Desk.

“Overall it was really nice, it got us all into the Christmas Spirit,” Dugger said.