NMU lights tree

%0AThe+large+pine+tree+outside+of+the+UC+got+lit+this+holiday.+%0APhoto+by+Kat+Torreano

The large pine tree outside of the UC got lit this holiday. Photo by Kat Torreano

Jackie Jahfetson

Over hundreds of little white bulbs glistened in the darkness for weeks on end, hoping to sparkle in the winter nights. Strand after strand, the notably skyscraping Christmas tree just outside the University Center (UC) waited for hundreds and hundreds of people to gather around her for the big moment when President Erickson and Wildcat Willy would help set the lights glowing at the heart of campus. From little boys and girls to the large number of student volunteers, the tree lighting ceremony is another trademark to NMU and something everyone looks forward to upon returning from Thanksgiving break.

Like the Griswold family house in suburb Chicago, the 31st Annual Lighting Up the Holidays brightened the cold winter sky and put a bit of holiday cheer in many people’s hearts. This year’s tree lighting ceremony sparked another large crowd last night from 4 to 8 p.m. outside the UC. With a large white tent, families enjoyed the holiday aroma while sipping on hot chocolate and munching on an assortment of Christmas cookies. Hosted by Simply Superior, the free event always attracts a fairly large audience, reaching around 1,000 attendees and it’s a way for people to get out and enjoy the holidays, event coordinator Elizabeth Peterson said.

“It’s sort of a magical event on campus,” Peterson said. “It’s about Northern giving back, it’s about the kids and getting excited for the holidays.”

Hearing all of the little kids scream as they anticipate to sit on Santa’s lap is just another reason why Peterson said she has been involved with this event for the past five years. And it’s nice to break the event
up where people can gather outside in the tent or stay warm inside the UC and enjoy dance performances by New Attitudes and the NMU Cheer Team. The free gift wrapping, face painting and books and the amount of games and prizes are also another big hit for kids and it’s a way for families to enjoy a night out without spending a fortune.

A big contribution to the event is the large amount of volunteers who come and help make this event a success, Peterson said. An average number of 70 volunteers, mostly student athletes, come in shifts to help with
the event’s many programs such as helping with the holiday card and ornament making, she said.

“It creates a neat environment between students and the kids,” Peterson said, adding, “It’s amazing.”