Before faculty and students embark on the trek back home to be with family, there is an Oklahoma Christian University tradition that brings everyone together.
Lighting of the Commons is an annual event which celebrates the start of the Christmas season; it includes festivities such as fireworks, carriage rides, the Soundings marketplace, pictures with Santa and hot chocolate.
“Lighting of the Commons, from the very beginning, was really adopted by everybody, so many people come here,” President John deSteiguer said. “There are as many people that come back for Lighting of the Commons as there are that come to other big events on campus. It is family-friendly; it adds to the community, and we all look forward to it every year.”
Alumni of all graduation years come back and experience this enchanted evening where the Lawson Commons are illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights.
“[Lighting of the Commons] started after I graduated when I was working on staff, and it was just a fun new event to see come together,” 2008 alumna Amber Pless said. “Now that I have a toddler, it is an enjoyable thing to bring him to. He loves the trains, lights and Santa, so it is great for him.”
Staff members also enjoy the seasonal festivities Lighting of the Commons brings.
“I like how well it is put on and everything they have,” 2017 graduate and current women’s basketball assistant coach McKenzie Stanford said. “I love the booths they have outside. Back when I was a student, I only remember the lighting, Santa and the hot chocolate. So, I think all the little cool things that they have added are a big hit.”
This year was unique as it was the first year the Oklahoma Christian cheer team performed at the event. Dancing to popular Christmas songs while dressed up in Santa outfits, it was a lead into the grand finale consisting of fireworks and the Christmas lights.
Lighting of the Commons also gives current students a break from studying and a chance to hang out in a Christmas atmosphere.
“It is a great chance to hang out with friends and see people that you do not get to see that often,” sophomore Logan Menzies said. “I love getting to take a lot of pictures with my friends and post them; it really is just a great time.”
This event is a pinnacle on campus strategically placed between Thanksgiving break and finals week, according to deSteiguer.
“It is the kick-off of the season in some ways,” deSteiguer said. “You have just recovered from Thanksgiving and that break and now you have to power through to the end of the semester and this kind of marks a really special time: the beginning of the holiday season.”