The warm glow from the Christmas lights strung all around campus isn’t felt until after a special and traditional event at Pensacola Christian College. The event draws clusters of students to Varsity Terrace, loaded with coats and hats, with blankets in tow and hot chocolate in hand. Soon after sunset, the band begins to play songs from A Charlie Brown Christmas—a prelude for PCC’s Christmas Lights Celebration 2018.
“The most exciting part of performing in Christmas Lights to me is the energy surrounding the whole event!” said Matt Betz (Sr., SD), a soloist in this year’s performance. “Everybody is there to enjoy themselves and have a great time with friends and Christmas music, and to me Christmas Lights really symbolizes the entire student body finally embracing the Christmas season and looking forward to Christmas break.”
For Matt and others involved in Christmas Lights, preparation comes early. Music faculty Stephen Spilger, the Spirit Singers music director, has been working with the student singing group for the event since late September. “We have two days of rehearsing each week,” he said. “God has given these students the ability to learn so much in such a short period of time.”
Seasonally appropriate chilly weather has settled into Northwest Florida, so students made sure to bring blankets and hats when claiming their places early on Varsity Terrace for the show. “I willingly sat out here for two hours in temperatures that turned me numb so I could attend. It’s my favorite [event],” said Micah Robinson (Sr., AR).
“Christmas Lights is probably one of my favorite events, especially when it’s actually cold enough to wear sweaters and we’re not all melting,” said Elise Mauterer (Sr., NC). “It’s really like a community event. It’s something that the whole student body does [together].”
During the performance, students, faculty, staff, and guests enjoyed singing along with their favorite Christmas songs and watching the ensemble extend a welcoming hand to a lonely Mr. Grinch to celebrate the Christmas season together. “I really liked their rendition of the Grinch as probably the best part, and they do a good job with the lights,” said Kade Utz (Jr., OH).
“Christmas Lights has always boosted the joy around campus,” said Kelley Goforth (Jr., FL), one of the ensemble singers. “Even though life is crazy around this time, you can’t help but look to the days ahead with a smile on your face because you know you’ll soon be home for the holidays!”
Like Kelley, many of the returning students look forward to Christmas Lights every year because it reminds them that they will soon be celebrating the holidays at home with their family and friends, but the event itself seems to bring that same feeling to the students so they can celebrate early with their college friends before they go.
“One of my favorite things about Christmas is seeing how people express their enthusiasm and Christmas spirit for their music, their special Christmas food, and their decorations,” said Owen Moss (Sr., Bahamas), one of the Spirit Singers. “But whether you insist on a real tree or an artificial tree, decorate with white or multicolor lights, whether you love eggnog or hate it, we can all agree that we need a little Christmas in our lives.”