Luminarias and festive lights shine as Elon celebrates annual Festival of Holiday Lights

The Elon community gathered Dec. 6 in front of Alamance Building to celebrate the start of this festive season with a display of luminarias honoring alumni and senior class donors. 

By Oliver Fischer ’19

Hundreds gathered in the heart of the university’s campus Thursday night to celebrate Elon’s annual Festival of Holiday Lights, with glowing luminarias and shining lights surrounding them at this event marking the holiday season.


​Hot chocolate with marshmallows and apple cider kept visitors warm while Jan Fuller, university chaplain and lecturer, offered a short introduction to kick off the festivities. “This offers a few moments during a strenuous time to celebrate the lights of the season,” Fuller said.

The event is sponsored by the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and featured about 2,000 luminarias lining the walkways this year, with each candlelit luminaria bearing the names of alumni and senior class donors. 

“These lights signify the joy of being human and being together in the Elon community,” Fuller said.

This is an Elon tradition with roots that stretch back decades. Elon was joined by the town of Elon this year, with downtown offering its own display of luminarias.

The ceremony marks the beginning of celebrating the season of peace, love and joy across a variety of religions. Student representatives explained the significance of the season and meaning of lights in religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism. Students offered a short prayer at the end of each presentation.

The event also featured a number of musicians from the community, including Acapella group Twisted Measure and the Elon Gospel Choir, who provided festive music in the background as students and visitors walked along the pathways and took pictures next to the luminarias.

The crowd also offered a moment of silence for the late President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30 at the age of 94. The 41st president, Bush visited Elon’s campus in April 2001 to deliver a spring convocation address.

​As visitors awaited the countdown for the lighting of the campus for the holidays, they could meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and take pictures with them in front of Powell Building.

Fuller concluded the event with a two-stage countdown to turn on the lights decorating the trees in front of the Moseley Center and Alamance Building. Surrounded by the glow from lights strung around Elon’s campus, the crowd joined in the first verse from Deck the Halls before heading on their way.