November 20, 2009 — At the University of Virginia, most of the autumn leaves have fallen, the days are shortening, classes are ending and exams are looming.
Clearly, it's time to lighten up. The University will host its ninth annual Lighting of the Lawn event on Dec. 8, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.
Thousands of University students and Charlottesville community members are expected on the Lawn to witness the growing U.Va. tradition, hosted this year by the Class of 2010 and its board of trustees.
The fundamentals of the event are simple: U.Va.'s Facilities Management staff strings thousands of holiday lights on the Rotunda, the columns and arcades of the Lawn, and on every pavilion, and throws the switch at the ceremony.
An evening's worth of events have grown around that. Students enjoy the reading of the annual "recap" poem, which humorously addresses current events from the past year from the perspective of a University student. Tabitha Enoch, director of orientation for the Office of Orientation and New Student Programs, and Dean of Students Allen Groves will read the poem written by the 2010 Class of Trustees.
Also appearing will be 21 musical groups, ranging from the U.Va. Pep Band to the Academical Village People. Each group will perform a musical number for the audience.
U.Va. Dining Services will provide refreshments, including hot apple cider and hot chocolate.
Also, a "Lighting of the Amphitheater" will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. The event features a series of projections created by students in lecturer Aaron Henderson's intermediate digital art class and inspired by the relationship between culture and nature. The event features work by Brandon Barksdale, Maria Fini, Vashti Harrison, Dontrelle Inman, Alli Kirtley, Heather Klein, Matt Leemhuis, Sara Nickel and Sanjida Rashid.
The Lighting of the Lawn began in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The event was intended to gather the Charlottesville community together "to appreciate all they had," said Leslie Alpert, publicity chair for the event and a fourth-year student in the McIntire School of Commerce.
"Over the years it has lost this general sense of remembrance and it has become more of a holiday celebration," Alpert said. "While we think that celebrating the end of the semester and the start of the holiday season is great, the committee would like to make students, faculty, and community members aware of the remembrance for which the event was started."
The lights will remain lit each night until approximately Jan.1.
Dominion Virginia Power donated environmentally friendly LED lights last year. The bulbs require less energy and have a longer lifespan than the incandescent lights previously used.