Manchester tree lighting
Members of the Manchester community gathered on the mall on Nov. 23 to watch the annual tree lighting and enjoy hot drinks and cookies.
Photo by Chloe Leckrone

Annual Tree-Lighting Event Ushers in Christmas Season

Marisa Engbrecht

Students, faculty, staff and residents of North Manchester all watched as the frigid night sky lit up in greens and blues, topped by a star on Nov. 23 outside Petersime Chapel at 6:25 p.m.

The annual Christmas tree lighting, which had been post-poned due to rain, continues to light up the Manchester University yard outside of Petersime Chapel. The postponing of the event resulted in no Manchester high school choir and no Santa Claus. Despite this, many members of the North Manchester community enjoyed themselves during the festive tree lighting. Most of the people who attended the gathering were young families with children, with only a few Manchester students attending. Lumineers lit up the sidewalks, which are paper bags with lit candles in them. Other lights were displayed as well at the walkway towards the tree, as well as on the light poles around campus.

Food was served at the event, ranging from sugar cookies to apple cider to hot chocolate. Most of the food was gone by the end of the event. The food was served buffet-style, allowing people to come and go as they please to take a snack. Many young children excitedly grabbed the snacks as their parents stood back.

“I like the hot chocolate and the lights,” said Audrey, a six-year-old who was at the tree lighting with her mother and father, as well as her two older siblings. “They’re pretty with the blue and the green.” She ate her sugar cookie excitedly and one could tell that despite Santa Claus not being there, children were still excited to see the tree be lit. Audrey wore a fluffy pink winter coat to combat the cold temperatures.

“We were freezing,” said Halle Frieden, a first-year at Manchester University. She went with a friend and enjoyed the evening, making sure to get sugar cookies and warm hot chocolate to ward off the cold. “It was so cool! It was really pretty and I liked the paper bags that were around the whole thing with the little candles in them.” Halle and her friend watched the tree lighting from inside the library because of the temperature.

The tree lighting sparked the beginning of the Christmas spirit spreading around the town for the holiday season. Many families and people already have their Christmas decorations up. With many in attendance to watch the spectacle, one could say that the town needed the holiday cheer after a rough year.

“It’s been hard on families, especially young ones, with the pandemic,” said Christy, a young mother of three who attended the tree lighting. “We all do our best to make it good for the kids and finally being able to do small things like attending a tree lighting means a lot to us.”

With the Christmas season coming to the light, members of the North Manchester community can enjoy the tall standing tree lit each night outside Petersime Chapel as the evenings grow dark. One might say it’s beginning to look like Christmas, despite the lack of snow and ice.