Nov. 30, 2011
Northwest community flips switch on holiday tree
The Northwest Missouri State University community and local residents marked the beginning of the holiday season Tuesday evening, Nov. 29, with the University's third annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony.
About 200 people gathered on the lawn of the historic Thomas Gaunt House for the event, which included performances by The Spirit and Truth Gospel Choir and the Horace Mann Bearcat Choir. The program also included remarks by Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski, Maryville Mayor Ron Moss, Student Senate President Andrew Maddux and Bridget Brown, director of the Newman Center representing the Campus Ministerial Alliance.
“The lighting of the holiday tree is really a celebration of the beginning of the holiday season, and we as people – no matter our upbringing, no matter our faith – gather around and offer our very best to mankind,” Jasinski said before turning on the lights that illuminate the 30-foot black hills spruce tree, located at the northeast corner of the Gaunt House.
With the lighting of the tree, Jasinski encouraged the crowd to also remember the meaning behind the holiday season, military members and others who cannot be with their families, and those less fortunate.
“In late November, with lights and ornaments, the tree transforms into a symbol of hope, of unity and of peace,” Jasinski said. “Friends, let the light of this holiday tree shine forth to each of you as a beacon of what is right in this world. It is in the spirit of unity that I ask each of you to think of what is important and what matters.”
Brown recalled the origin of the holiday tree tradition, which began when people in 15th century Germany attached candles to fur trees as a symbol of love’s pure light coming into the world.
“Northwest makes me think of that with this particular tradition because Northwest can be a beacon in so many ways,” Brown said. “I think of the family tradition at Northwest, which is very real. Certainly there is not a student who has ever come to Northwest and hasn’t left knowing that they have been part of a family and always will be.”
In conjunction with the tree lighting, Northwest announced the results of its annual Project Holiday Hope initiative, to which residents were encouraged to donate blankets, gloves or mittens and hats for families in need of them. Collection bins were placed throughout campus and at Northwest athletics events during the month of November.
This year, the University collected more than 130 items. David Weichinger, Nodaway County director for Community Services, accepted the donations on behalf of the Ministry Center.
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