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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Families gathered Thursday night on the lawn of the Gaunt House for the seventh annual Holiday Tree Lighting.

Families gathered Thursday night on the lawn of the Gaunt House for the seventh annual Holiday Tree Lighting. (Photo by Jacob Hubbert/Northwest Missouri State University)

    Dec. 4, 2015

    Community gathers for annual Holiday Tree Lighting at Gaunt House

    Members of the Horace Mann Laboratory School's Bearcat Choir sing carols as guests enter the Gaunt House after the Holiday Tree Lighting.

    Members of the Horace Mann Laboratory School's Bearcat Choir sing carols as guests enter the Gaunt House after the Holiday Tree Lighting. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

    The Northwest Missouri State University community gathered Thursday night on the lawn of the Thomas J. Gaunt House for the seventh consecutive year to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and illuminate a Black Hills Spruce tree on the property.

    The annual Holiday Tree Lighting, hosted by the Jasinski family, featured Bobby Bearcat dressed as Santa and the Horace Mann Laboratory School’s Bearcat Choir as well as remarks from University and community leaders.

    “Traditions matter,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said during his opening remarks. “Traditions represent a critical piece of our culture and give us a sense of belonging. They provide lasting memories, and so to does this holiday tree.”

    With a nod to the 50th anniversary of the debut of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on TV, Maryville Mayor Mayor Renee Reidel and Councilwoman Rachael Martin read a portion of the Christmas story in which Charlie Brown sets out to find the right Christmas tree.  

    “We all have felt like Charlie Brown at times,” Reidel said. “Our loved ones and sometimes strangers help us find our inner Linus. They take center stage and remind us of the meaning of Christmas.”

    She added, “As we light this beautiful tree tonight with the ones we love, remember that this tree may have only had one branch at one time. With the love and support of our community, it is now a symbolic icon of Christmas in Maryville.”

    Additionally, families were invited to give to Ruby’s Pantry, a philanthropic effort sponsored by Northwest and the Jasinski family in conjunction with the Holiday Tree Lighting. The Jasinski family and their first dog, Ruby, invited community members to assist the New Nodaway Humane Society by donating supplies.

    The collective drive took in more than 100 items that included dog and cat food and cleaning supplies, in addition to nearly $100 in monetary donations.

    The historic Gaunt House, located at the south edge of campus, was built during the 1870s and serves as the presidential residence. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.


    For more information, please contact:

    Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
    mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

    Northwest Missouri State University
    215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468