December 5, 2013
For the 13th year, the University of Virginia community is making the holiday season a little brighter, together. Thousands of Hoos gathered on grounds for the annual "Lighting of the Lawn" Thursday night.
The crowd was serenaded with the music of 20 a cappella groups, treated to warm drinks and read the Fourth-Year poem before Lawn was illuminated around 10:15 p.m.
"Even though the weather was a little warmer, you see everyone with their Santa hats on and the Christmas lights on and it's fun," said Jenny Street.
Street is spending her first holiday season in Charlottesville with son, Jett, and husband, Matthew Street, a lecturer at the university.
Fourth-year student Sydney Schrider is no stranger to the tradition.
"I think everyone looks forward to it every year, and I've gone to the last three of these, but this one's special because I live here," said Schrider.
Her room on the Lawn was already decked out with the Christmas spirit before Thursday night's lighting, but Schrider says she's looking forward to seeing lights outside of her room, too.
"It's going to be incredible. It's going to be an experience like nothing else. It'll be great," she said.
For the first time, the clock on the Rotunda is among the pillars, pavilions, and parts of the Lawn lit for the holidays.
"We think it'll give it an extra touch," said Lighting of the Lawn co-chair Jennifer Breeze.
Breeze says organizers have been planning the event since August, but says the hard work was worth it.
"We can come and just celebrate the holiday season and the end of a long semester and celebrate all of the fun things that have happened as well as just reflect on the year and what the university community has done," said Breeze.
The lights will be displayed until early January.
The Lighting of the Lawn began in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a way for the university community to heal and reflect.
This year, the event committee selected the Wounded Warrior Project, which also began following 9/11, to benefit from its donation drive.
To learn more about the Lighting of the Lawn and its philanthropy, click HERE.