Jonathan Scanlon, with a set of Christmas lights dangling from his neck, swooped into the refreshments section and grabbed a couple of cookies and a cup of hot chocolate before moving on to his next task.

The clock was ticking toward 7 p.m. and the start of the 22nd annual Lighting of the Lawn. Scanlon, a third-year University of Virginia student and one of the organizers of the event, had been on the move for the previous six hours. 

Rain dripped from his jacket. 

“It’s honestly still a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s for a good cause, so it makes it all worth it.”

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Friday’s wet conditions failed to dampen the spirit of a longtime UVA tradition that annually succeeds in its mission, ringing in the holiday season with a celebration of joy and community.

This year’s Lighting of the Lawn theme was “Disglow.”  Early attendees were treated to free glow sticks, and all attendees were encouraged to dress in disco-themed costumes. The University’s various performance groups entertained the crowd. 

Kimora Bryant is a second-year student and member of the Harmonious Hoos. The a cappella group, while wearing festive onesie pajamas, covered the Boyz II Men version of “Let It Snow.”

Bryant was a spectator at the event last year, but on Friday she donned a penguin onesie and candy cane earrings at the base of the Rotunda in front of a Lawn full of her classmates and others. 

(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

“Being on stage this time is so crazy,” she said, “but I love it.”

Lighting of the Lawn event co-chairs Riley Lorgus and Frances Carraway began Friday’s festivities reading a letter from the A.N.G.E.L.S. Society that in part paid tribute to the lives of the three UVA football players – Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry – who were killed in a shooting on Grounds on Nov. 13, 2022. 

“This night is a testament to our resolve to honor Devin, Lavel and D’Sean,” Carraway said, reading from the letter, “and to bring joy and happiness to Grounds, just like they did.” 

As was the case last year, Lighting of the Lawn included lights formed into the jersey numbers worn by Davis, Chandler and Perry – 1, 15 and 41. 

Toward the end of the night, four members of the UVA community – Cedric Bernard Rucker, the interim dean of students; Theresa Carroll, the senior assistant dean for academic and student services in the School of Nursing; Nicole Hall, the associate vice president for career and professional development; and Dave Roberts, a longtime zone maintenance supervisor, read a poem addressing the first-, second-, third- and fourth-year classes.

(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

“No matter where you end up next year,” Carroll said to fourth-year students, “your UVA family will always be here.” 

The evening was then capped off with the actual lighting of the Lawn – the illumination of some 11,000 strands of solar-powered LED lights, strung throughout the Academical Village – followed by a group sing of the “Good Old Song.” A light display with pulsing illuminations timed to the beat of several pieces of music ended the show. 

The Lawn will remain illuminated through the end of the year.

Here are some more photos of the event:

(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)
(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)
(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)
(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)
(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)
(Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)
(Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications