The 12th annual Lighting of the Lawn, to be held Thursday in the University of Virginia’s historic Academical Village, will continue a tradition begun in 2001 when the fourth-year trustees, who sponsor and host the event, looked for a way to bring the University community together in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
To expand upon the tradition, the trustees also have focused on giving back to the community by raising funds for a community cause. This year, the trustees will be raising money for Hope House, a transitional housing program that helps homeless families in the Charlottesville area get back on their feet. The program is overseen by the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.
Jenna Dagenhart and Alexa Wauben, fourth-year students in the College of Arts & Sciences who co-chair the Lighting of the Lawn committee, are looking forward to an evening filled with not only music and camaraderie, but also the spirit of giving.
“Lighting of the Lawn serves as a warm reminder of why compassion and giving must not be forgotten,” Dagenhart said. “It can be a high-stress time of year, but the U.Va. student body and Charlottesville community are still taking time to donate selflessly to Hope House.”
The committee is asking donors to sponsor columns, strands or individual lights, ranging in amounts from $5 to $200. Those wishing to donate can do so online or at the event.
This year’s celebration will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. and is open to all community members. U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan will kick off the evening by welcoming the crowd, expected to reach 7,000 over the course of the night. Approximately 20 a cappella groups will perform at various intervals on the Rotunda steps. The evening will culminate with the illumination of the Lawn, immediately following the reading of a humorous poem noting the U.Va.-themed highlights of 2012 by Larry Sabato, a professor of politics in the College and director of U.Va.’s Center for Politics, and School of Nursing Dean Dorrie Fontaine. Warm refreshments and light snacks will also be provided.
Facilities Management workers began the job of stringing more than 4,000 feet of lights in mid-November. New this year are rope lights on the Rotunda columns. “Rope lights encase the bulbs in a clear, plastic tube. This provides additional protection, and they do a great job of outlining the shape of the columns,” Mike Merriam, associate director for facilities maintenance, said.
In keeping with the University’s sustainability efforts, Lighting of the Lawn is an environmentally responsible event using low-energy LED lights, the majority of which were donated by Dominion Virginia Power in 2008.
The Lawn will remain illuminated at night throughout the winter holiday season, with the lights coming down around Jan. 3.