Thursday November 17, 2005

Love, Lights and Laughter

The candlelight walk from Kennedy Union to the Frericks Center, the site of the musical celebration of Christmas and Mass celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, returns to the festivities.

The bright smiles of the nearly 1,200 Dayton school children at the University of Dayton's 42nd Christmas on Campus Dec. 8 will have some competition.

Organizers are bringing back the candlelight walk from Kennedy Union to the Frericks Center, the site of the musical celebration of Christmas and Mass celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The celebration and Mass, which feature a 300-person choir and a crowd of 5,000, begin at 9:15 p.m. in the Frericks Center on UD's campus.

Before Mass, UD students will escort the children, some of whom may not have much of a Christmas, through a winter wonderland of cartoon characters, dancing, singing, crafts, face-painting and Santa Claus. Children also can make stockings and decorate ornaments.

UD's 42nd Christmas on Campus, "Love, Lights and Laughter," kicks off at 6 p.m. in the Kennedy Union Plaza with a live Nativity scene, Christmas tree lighting and the arrival of Santa Claus.

The event, started in 1964, is free and open to the public. All events take place in various campus buildings.

Ellie Kurtz, director of UD's student union from 1964 to 1994, started Christmas on Campus for a group of students who simply wanted to get together before heading home for the winter break.

"One night I was preoccupied with a sense of disappointment that students would be leaving for Christmas vacation and would not be able to celebrate Christmas with their friends and the UD family," said Kurtz, who has attended every Christmas on Campus. "I imagined what a wonderful Christmas we could have if we could celebrate Christmas before the students went home for the holidays."

The event has evolved into what is believed to be one of the nation's largest single-day, on-campus community service events. Twenty-four students, under the supervision of Lou Talbott, director of student involvement and leadership, plan the event.

"This is a very enthusiastic, committed and focused group of students," said Talbott, who has supervised the committee since 1988. "These students fulfill the Catholic, Marianist values of leadership and service to provide an evening of fellowship, reflection and entertainment."

For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.

Download the complete 2005 Christmas on Campus schedule.