Christmastime traditions sign of faithful campus community

Traditions transmit customs or beliefs from generation to generation and demonstrate the faithfulness of those who keep them going.

Of the many traditions associated with Grove City College, those the campus embraces at Christmastime are filled with music and singing, sweets and treats, charity and light and the remembrance of the true reason for the season: the birth of Christ.

Grove City College’s Light-up Night on Tuesday, Dec. 3 is a tradition that began back in 1991, when Tom Douglas, head of Maintenance at the time, came up with the idea. He challenged employees Dave Arblaster and George Lightcap to build a star to top Rockwell. It was an immediate hit and has been shining out for almost 30 years. Light-up Night now includes singing and band music, hot cocoa and cookies, speeches and the reading of a verse from the J. M. Lowrie poem “Star in the East” to light the star.

Another traditional poem was originally read in 1984 by Rev. Dr. Richard A. Morledge ’54, retired Dean of the Chapel at the annual Candlelight service. 

The poem is “A Christmas Prayer” by American Poet Grace Noll Crowell. Morledge’s father had recited the poem at his Presbyterian Church’s Christmas Eve service in Pittsburgh. Morledge used in at his home church in Bakerstown, Pa. as well and brought it with him when he came to the College. His successor Dr. Stanley Keehlwetter continued the tradition for 19 years. This year, interim Chaplain Rev. Dr. D. Dean Weaver ’86, who as a student heard Moreledge recite it, continues the tradition.

The Touring Choir leads the congregation in singing carols, and once all the candles are lit, everyone joins to sing “Silent Night,” raising their flame at the climax of each verse. The solemnity of the evening reflects the solemnity of when Christ, the true light, was born into the world.

Another musical tradition at the College is the annual Carnegie Christmas Concerts. The noontime performances showcasing student musicians and singers run Monday, Dec. 2 through Friday, Dec. 6 in Carnegie Alumni Center. They are free and open to the public.

On a more playful note, this will be the 10th year that the Office of Alumni and College Relations will be hosting the Santa Breakfast. It is a fun family event with food, cookies to decorate, crafts and of course a visit with Santa.

Breen Student Union will be getting a Christmas makeover, according to Student Government Association (SGA) President Tyler Gustafson ’20 of Newburg, Pa. SGA will be putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the union with festive gear from 7 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 4. In the spirit of giving to others, donations will be collected for the Children's Aid Society gift drive.

In the community, an annual drive-through display in Memorial Park hosts Christmas-themed displays put together by businesses and organizations. The Grove City College display will be in spot number three of the drive-thru decorations. “We have typically rotated between our two displays – Rainbow Bridge, and Rockwell, but this year we are working on a new display: Harbison Chapel,” Terry Wolfe, director of Facilities Management at Grove City College said.

Throughout all the events on and off campus, the Grove City College Community unites over the best tradition of all: God’s faithfulness to his children, shown in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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