December 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - A 60-foot spruce with 42,900 lights and a star at the top sparkled as Seton Hall students and area residents wearing blue-and-white Santa hats filled the air with holiday cheer at the university’s fourth annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 3.
“There are very few events I really look forward to on my calendar,” University President A. Gabriel Esteban said. “And this is the one I look forward to the most…The carols, friends, hot cocoa is the perfect way to kick off Christmas here.”
The ceremony is the first event of Christmas at the Hall.
Sophomore Joe Baker said, “The university comes together as a family to celebrate the Christmas season.”
Rich Genabith, an alumnus who lives in Watchung, attended the ceremony. His two children are students at Seton Hall University.
“I think this is wonderful,” Genabith said. “We have come all four years they’ve done it.”
This season, the university launched the “12 Acts of Kindness” campaign during the ceremony, inspired by College of Nursing senior Hillary Sadlon performing 22 random acts of kindness on her 22nd birthday that caught the attention of media outlets including Good Morning America, USA Today and ABC.com.
“The 12 acts of Christmas kindness really means a lot to me,” Sadlon said. “The big, overall goal of this is to get everyone participating in acts of kindness and to really just make the world a better place in the end. You don’t have to do 12. You can only do one. One act of kindness will truly make a difference.”
The Campus Ministry Division of Volunteer Efforts, known as DOVE, is spearheading various community service efforts including a Christmas toy drive.
“Seton Hall students, faculty and staff have been committed to providing a memorable Christmas to over 200 children in need,” according to the university website. “Through the generosity of the Seton Hall community, gifts are collected, wrapped and shipped to both Appalachia and local families.”
Student volunteers collected toys at the ceremony to be added to collection in the DOVE office. Those who donated an unwrapped toy received a special blue Seton Hall Santa hat.
The university’s choir and student organizations took the stage to sing Christmas carols. Gentleman of the Hall, an a cappella men’s group, sang “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” The seminary choir, which has performed at the ceremony for four straight years, sang “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
The holiday spirit was enhanced with free hot chocolate, ornament decorating and a picture with the Pirate in a blue-and-white Santa suit.
The reporters are students participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.