‘Finding Our Light’: A Very Timely 20th-Anniversary Lighting of the Lawn

‘Finding Our Light’: A Very Timely 20th-Anniversary Lighting of the Lawn

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Undaunted by the pandemic, student leaders at the University of Virginia have carefully crafted a virtual Lighting of the Lawn event that is extremely appropriate for 2020, moving up the traditional opening celebration of the holiday season at UVA to November.

With the University’s in-person classes wrapping up before Thanksgiving, Lighting of the Lawn will take place virtually Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. so that students can enjoy the show before returning home.

The theme of this year’s event is “Finding Our Light,” a topic chosen by student organizers to bring light to UVA and the surrounding community during the uncertainty introduced by COVID-19.

Lighting of the Lawn chairperson Ally Bollettino said her team was determined to put together a special program this year because of the uncertainty introduced not only by the pandemic, but by the political and social divisions that have been surging across the country.

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“It’s just generally been a stressful time for the world and our community,” she said. “We just want to remind people that, while all of those things should not be dismissed, there is still good in the world. There’s still light in the world. We want to try to take everyone’s minds off things for a few hours before they head home for the semester.”

As in years past, the student-run show will feature scores of performance groups, including UVA dance troupe X-Tasee Dance Crew and a capella groups the Sil-hooettes, The Virginia Gentlemen and the University Singers. The program will culminate with a light show backed by coursing music.

In addition to adorning the Lawn with thousands of shimmering, solar-powered white lights, organizers have added some new flourishes this year.

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For the first time, lights have also been hung on the north (University Avenue) side of the Rotunda, so that more members of the community can enjoy the display at a distance. And the organizing committee has reached out to several prominent alumni to share video snippets of their reflections on the year and the “Finding Our Light” theme. Faculty, staff, students and members of the community have also submitted remarks for the show.

All of the performances, reflections and the grand finale light show are pre-recorded and organizers hope students can gather with their roommates for an intimate viewing of the spectacle, as alumni from around the world tune in from the comfort of their living rooms. This year’s Lighting of the Lawn can be viewed live or any time after Nov. 19 here.

Lighting of the Lawn began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as a way to foster unity and inclusion in the UVA and Charlottesville communities. The lights will illuminate UVA’s Lawn until early January.

Facilities Management is a huge part of Lighting of the Lawn. Associates began hanging lights on the Rotunda and along the Lawn last month.
University photographer Sanjay Suchak visited the Lawn earlier this month to capture some of the magical scenes.

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Jane Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications