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Lighting Ceremony features 100k lights and 8k attendees

Students were joined by thousands of graduates and community members during the annual ceremony. Photo: Derek Eckenroth

Bob Jones University kicked off the Christmas season with the annual Carol Sing and Lighting Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 in front of Rodeheaver Auditorium. The University Singers, BJU’s freshman choir, led the crowd of community members, alumni, students and faculty in a variety of Christmas carols.

Thousands of people carrying candles sang hymns of praise including “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger.”

President Steve Pettit shared a Gospel message with the crowd, emphasizing Christmas as a season of giving. The ultimate gift was given through the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “As we light up the campus, it is a testimony that the Light has come into the world,” he said.

After the final note of “O Holy Night” was sung, the crowd counted down and Pettit and Greenville County councilman Stan Tzouvelekas turned on over 100,000 Christmas lights on campus simultaneously.

The crowd was awed by the lights. “This was probably the most impressed I’ve ever been,” said Kate Wiedell, a senior English education major who has attended the event several years. “It was very epic.”

Wiedell said she loves how the event unites the community. “It’s just such a special moment when they turn the lights on, and we all get to celebrate that together,” she said.

The crowd continued singing Christmas carols. As “Let It Snow” echoed across campus, fake snow floated down into the crowd from snow machines on the roof of the auditorium.

Following the ceremony, the freshmen multimedia journalism students organized a Christmas broadcast in The Den. The broadcast included Christmas songs, games and prizes.

BJU also arranged several musical events and activities for the community to enjoy before and after the Lighting Ceremony. These included the Alumni Christmas Market, the University Symphony Orchestra and Combined Choirs Christmas concert and the BJUgrass concert featuring Ben Rochester. The Christmas Village on the Palmetto Green had tents with cookie decorating, s’mores and crafts for people attending the event.

An estimated 8,000 people were on campus for the celebration. The Lighting Ceremony has been a tradition at BJU for over 30 years. The University has been able to use it as a testimony of the Gospel to the community, and it hopes to continue the tradition for years to come.

BJU’s lighting ceremony saw reduced attendance for two years
during COVID-19, but this year’s attendence bounced back to normal.
Photo: Hannah Guell