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TAG | Carol of Lights



Illuminating Tradition

Started by a small group of students assembled around Memorial Circle 54 years ago, the tradition of singing Christmas carols and welcoming in the holiday spirit began. Now, the Carol of Lights is one of Texas Tech’s largest and oldest traditions.

According to the Texas Tech website, Dr. Gene Hemmle, who is a co-founder of the Carol of the Lights, organized the small group of residence hall friends that began singing Christmas carols and drinking hot chocolate one evening.

The website states the event was officially organized in 1959 with 5,000 lights. Harold Hinn provided the funds to purchase enough lights to cover the science quadrangle and administration buildings.

The ceremony was named the Carol of Lights in 1961, when the number of lights increased to 16,000.

The State of Texas granted the Carol of  Lights a Certificate of Registration in 1992, according to the Texas Tech website, which amplified the tradition and brought notice to its growth.

Erica Wolver, a senior nursing major from Corsicana, Texas, said this was her second year to go to the celebration, and although she has not attended Tech all four years, she understands the uniqueness of such an event.

The Lubbock community and Tech students realize the tradition of attending this ceremony, resulting in over 20,000 people coming to watch the lights turn on this year.

The website states the ceremony has taken place every year since 1959, with the exception of the university’s energy conservation policy in 1972 which led to the event being cancelled.

Now, 13 buildings around Memorial Circle are illuminated by over 25,000 lights and have a crowd that continues to grow each year.

Wolver said she believes the ceremony will live on and only continue to get bigger each year, as it becomes a more respected and noticed tradition.

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The Carol of Lights

Texas Tech holds an annual ceremony called the Carol of Lights before the holiday break to invite Lubbock locals and Tech students to experience the buildings being lit up by thousands of lights.

The traditional celebration was held around Memorial Circle on December 1, at 5:30 p.m., and included the Masked Rider and Horse, Saddle Tramps Torch Light Processional and High Riders starting off the ceremony at the University Seal.

The Texas Tech Choir and the Texas Tech University Combined Choir conducted a variety of Christmas songs that were sang before the official lighting took place.

This event has been going on for 54 years, states the Texas Tech website, and illuminates 13 buildings with over 25,000 lights.

Each year the university converts 20 percent of the lights to LED, and in 2013 the entire ceremony should be 100 percent LED.

According to the website, the Residence Halls Association sponsored event is one of Tech’s largest and oldest traditions, with over 20,000 people in attendance this year.

Alex Skartsiaris, a junior marketing and management major from Highland Park, Texas, said this was her first year to attend the ceremony.

Skartsiaris said she attended the event with her sorority sisters, and enjoyed experiencing the holiday cheer that was in the air.

“The singing was really cool and reminded me of home,” Skartsiaris said. “It was really pretty and everyone was really into it.”

Skartsiaris said her favorite part was when the lights were turned on and the buildings around Memorial Circle were lit up.

The website states the lights will be turned on every night through January 1 from dusk until midnight.

Ashley Carter, an undecided major from Lubbock, said this is her second year attending the ceremony. She said it is a cool tradition to be apart of, and it is fun to see everybody come out and enjoy it.

Erica Wolver, a senior nursing major from Corsicana, Texas, said her favorite part was when the lights turned on, as well.

Wolver said that aside from the heavy crowds it was a great experience and she was glad she attended.

A 38-foot Christmas tree was raised at the Broadway entrance of campus, the website indicates, and is lit up in addition to the lights every night.

Brody Anthony, a history major from Midland, Texas, said this was his first year attending the event. He said it has nothing to do with school spirit, but it is a great opportunity to show versatility as a university.

“I think it’s just a really neat experience because not all other campuses do that,” Wolver said. “Whenever you see all the lights and the big Christmas tree it just puts you in the Christmas spirit and just puts you in a good mood.”


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