Hundreds gather for 16th annual tree lighting

Cold hands, warm cocoa and newly-lit greenery filled the Lower Quad Tuesday evening as hundreds gathered for the annual tree and Nativity scene lighting ceremony.

Highlights of the Advent blessing included a prayer from the Rev. Dennis Dease and a reflection on the Advent season from Deborah Savage of the Saint Paul Seminary.

In her speech, Savage asked those gathered “can we allow the Advent season to heal us?”

Senior Undergraduate Student Government President Mike Orth said the tree lighting ceremony is his favorite event of the year because it “renews our St. Thomas spirit.”

“Even though we’re not out here for long it’s exciting to have the amount of people we do come out here,” Orth said. “We say a prayer, we sing some songs.”

Freshman Jacob Gerhartz said he is excited to see what the lights will look like once winter season weather kicks in.

“It’ll look really nice with the snow,” Gerhartz said.

Jerry Anderley, associate vice president for facilities, said more cost-efficient lights are being used this year to illuminate campus.

“We can light the entire campus with the LED lights for a couple thousand dollars, where in the past it was more like $25,000 to $30,000 with the old C7 (bulbs) and C9 (bulbs),” Anderley said. “The energy savings there is significant.”

While the lighting ceremony was financially conscience, it also brought students together.

Sophomore Laura Krake attended the tree lighting for the first time and didn’t let the cold temperatures keep her spirits down.

“Although it was cold, it warmed my heart,” Krake said.

Caroline Rode can be reached at