Students, University Celebrate Tree Lighting

The University of Scranton Christmas tree is lit on the Dionne Green.

By Phillip Schoch, Staff Writer

On a breezy, freezing Sunday night, the University of Scranton held its annual tree-lighting event
following its Advent Mass at 5 p.m.

Hundreds of students, faculty and citizens of Scranton gathered around the Dionne Green, waiting eagerly for the conclusion of the Mass. Children ran around the Green as well as the university’s concourse, excitedly asking their parents when the tree would light up.

Several students huddled together for warmth in the frigid night, patiently waiting for the exact
same thing as the children.

Following the Mass’s conclusion priests and student attendees of the Mass processed to the Green
from the Byron Complex where it was held.

In their march from the Byron to the Green, everyone, from priest to student to altar server, held a lit white candle, a slow parade of small flickering lights contrasting starkly from the nighttime sky and atmosphere.

During their march, several students and altar servers helped light up candles for everyone patiently waiting at the Green, with handed-out candles in their hands. The number of flickering lights grew, and died out, much to the frustration of many students, including senior David Pennino.

“It was so windy, my candle kept getting blown out,” said Pennino with a laugh.

On top of the already frigid temperatures, students had to worry about wind chill. To retaliate against the wind, many people cupped their hands closely around the fire to eliminate any threat for the flame. Luckily, for those students whose candle’s flame extinguished despite their efforts, there was a surplus of helping hands next to them.

“It didn’t matter what I tried; my candle kept blowing out. Thank goodness there were people next to me kind enough to help me relight my candle,” said Pennino.

The procession, led by the worshippers of the Advent Mass, circled down to the concourse adjacent to the Weinberg Memorial Library, eventually stopping right by the stairs leading to the Royal Way.

Standing on the stairs was the university’s choir, who also sang for the Advent Mass. As the march of students and priests finished, they performed the tune “Silent Night” in its entirety, as the amassed crowd of a few hundred people continued waiting patiently for the tree to be lit.

Eventually, after a brief blessing said by one of the priests, it was the moment everyone was waiting for. The countdown began, and in a rush of excitement like celebrating the new year, many children chimed in on the countdown.

It all paid off, as the crowd cheered once the tree was officially lit, lighting up the manger display at its base in the process. Parents instantly followed their children, who ran towards the tree to get a closer look.

Many students and families took pictures in front of the freshly lit tree, as the first floor of the DeNaples Center became another hub for holiday festivities to spread some Christmas cheer. A photo booth, a DJ, and other fun activities attracted hundreds of people to come inside from the cold night and enjoy some free hot chocolate and some Christmas cookies.

“It’s something that really helps the students. It takes our minds off of dead week and finals, even if just for a little while,” Pennino said.