This website is best viewed in a browser that supports web standards.

Skip to content or, if you would rather, Skip to navigation.

Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

A crowd of University and community members gathered on the lawn of the Thomas Gaunt House Thursday for Northwest's annual Holiday Tree Lighting.

A crowd of University and community members gathered on the lawn of the Thomas Gaunt House Thursday for Northwest's annual Holiday Tree Lighting. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Nov. 30, 2017

Community gathers for annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony

The Northwest Spirit and Truth Gospel Choir performs on the patio of the Thomas Gaunt House after Thursday night's Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony.

The Northwest Spirit and Truth Gospel Choir sings for a crowd gathered on the patio of the Thomas Gaunt House after Thursday night's Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony.

The Northwest Missouri State University community counted down in unison and then watched as a Black Hills Spruce Tree outside the campus’ historic Thomas Gaunt House was illuminated with strands of colorful lights Thursday night during its ninth annual Holiday Tree Lighting.

This year’s event featured remarks by Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski, Maryville Mayor Jason McDowell and Jason Hawk on behalf of the Campus Ministerial Alliance. The Horace Mann Laboratory School’s Bearcat Choir and The Northwest Spirit and Truth Gospel Choir also performed.

During his remarks, Jasinski referenced the beauty of the Northwest campus, which is designated the Missouri Arboretum, and the University’s role as a unifier.

“This tradition is very important to Northwest Missouri State University because it uplifts each and every one of us, our cultures and our backgrounds, for all that we stand,” Jasinski said.

Traditions help provide a sense of belonging and lasting memories, Jasinski said. The tree lighting, he added, represents an important tradition at Northwest and a kinship with the Maryville community, northwest Missouri and beyond.

“Let this tree shine in your hearts,” Jasinski said. “Be civil to one another and to all those that may disagree. Provide love. Provide unity. Be Bearcats in whatever you do and show the rest of the world how we can treat each other to uplift love throughout the holiday season.”

Hawk reflected on the joy he finds in his interactions with Northwest students from other countries.  

“Probably one of the most significant things I get to do is just discover that wherever you’re at and from whatever part of the globe you’re from, we’re all the same,” he said. “We have a heart that we have been created to have, to pursue what’s right, to pursue what truth is.”

McDowell voiced his appreciation for the ways in which the University and its students support the Maryville community and its organizations.

“When you come on campus, you become a part of the Bearcat family and you also become a part of the Maryville community,” he said. “I think that shows throughout. You can’t travel through town without seeing a paw print somewhere, and that’s great.”

People attending the ceremony were welcomed inside the Gaunt House afterward for refreshments as well as the Gaunt House patio, where Northwest’s mascot, Bobby Bearcat, was dressed in a Santa costume and sat for pictures.

In conjunction with the tree lighting, the Jasinski family annually selects a philanthropy. This year, the Jasinski family is focusing giving efforts on the University’s Pay It Forward Fund and Food Pantry. Community members may find needed items and provide donations to the Food Pantry throughout the year by visiting www.nwmissouri.edu/studentaffairs/foodpantry/.

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