November 22, 2011 — The 11th annual Lighting of the Lawn Dec. 1 will not only illuminate the University of Virginia's Academical Village, it will also help brighten a number of homes in the community.
The Class of 2012 trustees, who sponsor and host the event, launched the "Light Up a Life" campaign this year in tandem with the Lighting of the Lawn to raise money for Coalition Assisting Residents in Emergency Situations, an organization that helps low-income families pay their electricity bills.
Fourth-year College of Arts & Sciences student Allison Flicker, who co-chairs the Lighting of the Lawn committee, said that the campaign component arose from a conversation about how to bring the community together while giving back to it at the same time.
"Here we are with lights on the Rotunda and lights on the Lawn," when there are some in the community who can't afford to pay their light bills, she said. "Why not help someone who can't light up their home?"
The committee is asking donors to sponsor columns, strands or individual lights, ranging in amounts from $1 to $200. Those wishing to donate can do so online or at the Dec. 1 event.
The Lighting of the Lawn tradition began in 2001 as a way to bring the U.Va. community together in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Today, the event marks the ending of the fall semester and the start of the holiday season, and attracts nearly 7,000 community members. In keeping with the University's sustainability efforts, it is also an environmentally responsible event using low-energy LED lights, the majority of which were donated by Dominion Virginia Power in 2008.
This year's event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. and is open to all community members. A cappella groups will perform throughout the evening on the Rotunda steps and the celebration will culminate with the illumination of the Lawn immediately following the reading of a humorous poem noting U.Va.-themed highlights of 2011, presented by history professors Gary Gallagher and Michael Holt. Warm refreshments and light snacks will also be provided.
In addition to Lighting of the Lawn Dec. 1, a smaller Lighting of the Amphitheater will take place that evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The University Programs Council teamed with the Advanced New Media course in the Studio Art Department to put on this innovative event, in which giant video art projects created by the media class will be projected onto the McIntire Amphitheater.
Facilities Management workers began the job of stringing the lights – more than 4,000 feet in length – in mid-November. New this year: icicle lights. "At the request of the Lighting of the Lawn committee, icicle strands were added across the dome and columns of the Rotunda to give it a brighter look than in years past," said Mike Merriam, associate director for facilities maintenance.
The lights will remain lit at night throughout the winter holiday season, coming down around Jan. 3.