Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 20, 2015

Tree Lighting

Campus Lights Up for Town, Students

Karen Kanyike

Bright lights strewn across campus trees, photos with Santa, a selfie station with the president and Manny the Mascot, and refreshments and carols will all herald this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 3 in front of the Jo Young Switzer Center.

The Manchester Junior High School Choir begins the party at 6 p.m., followed by the Tree Lighting by President McFadden at 6:25 p.m. Santa will arrive on a fire truck at 6:30 p.m. to usher in the rest of the evening’s events. All festivities are free and open to the community.

MU CFO Jack Gochenaur introduced the idea of decorating campus for the holidays in 2003. “I noted that the campus had hardly any decorations on it,” said the 1970 Manchester graduate. “I’m a person who loves to decorate for Christmas; I just grew up that way. So I started (decorating campus) in the Christmas of 2004.”

And an MU tradition was born. Each year, Gochenaur works with Manchester’s maintenance staff to decorate, and with Alexis Young to prepare for the ceremony. Young, director of Conference Services, chairs a seven-member planning committee of faculty and staff.

Over the years, features have been added and removed in order to enhance the tradition. Last year, Gochenaur, with Corny Troyer, a recently retired maintenance staffer, bought a huge wreath to put at the top of Cordier Auditorium. The choir is this year’s addition. “We hope to have something that appeals to our students and to the community,” said Young.

“It’s different enough each year that people are still curious about what’s going to happen that did not happen (the previous) year,” said Gochenaur.