On Thursday, the University of Virginia and the Fourth-Year Trustees will host the 13th annual Lighting of the Lawn to celebrate the holiday season as a University community while embracing the season of giving by supporting the Wounded Warrior Project. The event will be held on the Lawn from 7 to 10 p.m.
An anticipated crowd of 7,000 will enjoy refreshments while listening to performances by 20 a cappella groups, the reading of the Fourth-Year poem and, of course, the illumination of the Academical Village.
The annual tradition began in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when the Fourth-Year Trustees sought to “bring together the community to heal and reflect.” More than a decade later, the tradition still shines brightly as a time “to reflect on friendships amongst us at present, a time to inspire hope through one another and a time to celebrate the wonderful community which we call home,” according to the Lighting of the Lawn website.
It also notes that much like Lighting of the Lawn, the Wounded Warrior Project was founded following the events of Sept. 11 to offer support services to individuals “physically, mentally and or emotionally wounded while serving their country on or after Sept. 11 and their families.” All are welcome to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The event committee selected the Wounded Warrior Project “to remind people about the history of the [Lighting of the Lawn] and that it was initially about building community morale and now, even 13 years after Sept. 11, we are still using the event to build community,” said Lighting of the Lawn co-chair Amy Rodgers, a fourth-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Prior to throwing the switch, the community is invited to gather and enjoy refreshments. Many students will find a place to gather with friends and professors around the Lawn.
“All pavilion residents have chosen to host receptions as well,” Rodgers said, noting that the Fourth-Year Class reception will be held in Pavilion V.
Attendees are invited to enjoy the musical performances of 20 different a cappella performances prior to the reading of the much-anticipated and often humorous Fourth-Year Poem, written by trustees who reflect on the year past and dedicate a section to each of the classes.
The poem’s readers also are highly anticipated. This year, the committee invited Lou Bloomfield, a physics professor and creator and founder of “Lou’s List,” which provides students with course listings as a simplified alternative to the Student Information System; and Sherri Moore, a business law professor of the McIntire School of Commerce, to share the honor.
The pinnacle of the night is the illumination of thousands of low-energy, environmentally responsible, LED lights to celebrate the holiday season. The lights will remain on display until early January as a celebration of the holiday season and the successful conclusion of the fall semester.
The event is made possible through donations from the Honor Committee, College Council, Interfraternity Council, Intersorority Council, University Programs Council, each of the Class Councils, as well as Fourth-Year Trustees, the U.Va. Alumni Association, Parents Committee, U.Va. Catering, U.Va. Facilities Management, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and private memorial funding from the Crispell Fund, in loving memory of Connie Crispell.