12/3/19 Union Christmas Tree Lighting

Visitors pack the Great Hall of the Union just after the tree lighting to take pictures with the tree and giant gingerbread house. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Purdue Memorial Union after decorators pulled up the 30-foot tall Christmas tree on Monday.

Purdue's annually donated Christmas tree is blue spruce donated by the Berenda family, West Lafayette residents. The tree stands in the Great Hall along with the traditional seven-foot-tall gingerbread house, and other themed gingerbread houses based on the Pixar movie "Up," Harry Potter and other themes.

The ceremony was kicked off with a short speech by Katelyn Milligan, Purdue Student Union Board’s Director of Spirit and Tradition. She spoke about the history of the tree and its donors. 

“As lifelong Purdue fans, the Berendas wanted the tree to be enjoyed by Purdue students and the community at our university," Milligan said.

Her speech was followed by another by PSUB president Cameron Glass. He spoke about the history and tradition of Purdue's Christmas trees over the years.

“Beginning sometime in the 1930s, the Christmas trees have been obtained from a variety of sources over the years," Glass said.

According to him, the trees were originally purchased in Wisconsin and transported to Purdue on flatbed rail cars. This required them to be cut long before the Christmas season and hence they were often dry and stripped of their needles prior to being delivered to campus.

Following Glass’s speech the Vice Provost for Student Life, Beth McCuskey, flipped a switch to turn on the lights that adorned the 21-year-old spruce.

“This is the only time of the year that you can walk around campus wearing red without people giving a heck about it,” McCuskey joked prior to lighting the tree, referencing Purdue's rivalry with the creme and crimson of Indiana University.

The event was attended by several students and families from Greater Lafayette.

“I really wanted to experience what celebrating Christmas in the United States feels like,” said freshman in the Krannert School of Management Suraj Gupta. “Being an international student, I was in awe of how the tree lit up. Hazarding a guess, there are probably 560 lights on the tree.”

Visitors can take part in a contest which will conclude on Friday. One simply has to guess the number of lights on the tree correctly to win.

The tree lighting ceremony was followed by a performance by the Purdue Acabellas, a student organization. The all-woman acapella group sang a series of Christmas carols and songs.

The tree will be open to visitors until Dec. 18.

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