On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, the Campus Activities Board (CAB) held its annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, bringing a well needed dose of holiday cheer to campus. A raffle for Beanpot tickets, carnival games, and hot chocolate lured students to O'Neill Plaza, where they were greeted by free hats, christmas music performed by several a cappella groups, and a gigantic unlit pine tree. The event went on for a little under three hours, between four and seven p.m. The main attraction, the tree lighting, began at six p.m. after a short preface by Fr. Leahy.
Caroline Law, the director of the Campus Engagements Department within CAB, revealed that “CAB has been planning this Christmas Tree Lighting since October.” She added that her department is “continuously finding ways to improve and expand on this event.”
Initially, the Christmas Tree Lighting was an event run by UGBC in collaboration with a few a capella groups, Fr. Leahy, and, of course, Santa. Three years ago, CAB took over and implemented some improvements to the holiday event. Caroline contends that “In the past two years [since CAB took over the event], CAB has added more interactive elements to the event that we hope the students have enjoyed.”
Clearly, the aspects Caroline referenced included the carnival, which allowed members of the community to play games, win tickets, and buy prizes. In addition, CAB members ran trivia contests for prizes on the main stage, driving a crowd of christmas movie enthusiasts into an excited frenzy.
As wonderful as prizes, trivia, and hot cocoa can be to an audience waiting outside in frigid temperatures, the lighting of the tree remained the real attraction. Such being the case, crowds began to swell around 5:45 p.m., and the air was electric with holiday cheer. Before the anticipation could be relieved, Fr. Leahy gave a brief statement.
Fr. Leahy spoke for just a minute or two, but his statements carried weight given the tension present on campus in recent weeks. He began by asserting, “We know that in our world, especially now, there are lots of things that can be burdensome.” But he asked we join him in “turning towards the tree and… quietly offering a prayer for all of us at Boston College and also for your families and those people you're most concerned with and those that you think are most in need.” He concluded his statements by adding, “when we look at this christmas tree, in the coming days, we say ‘there is a sign for hope.’”
With that, the tree was lit, and the festivities continued in O'Neill Plaza when Santa arrived not long thereafter. In all, the Christmas Tree Lighting was a wonderful campus event bringing holiday cheer in a time of stress for all members of the BC community.