Mix of Solemnity and Joy Mark University’s 21st Lighting of the Lawn

02 December 2022

By Jane Kelly

The scent of wood smoke from Lawn room fireplaces wafted in the air as a midnight blue sky welcomed hundreds of people to the University of Virginia’s iconic Lighting of the Lawn, made all the more affecting following the school’s recent tragedy.

It was not quite freezing, but chilly enough that coats, mittens and hats were required attire.

Each year, a collection of student-picked University leaders reads a holiday-themed poem. Usually boisterous, the tone was different at this year’s 21st annual event.

One by one, four people — including head football coach Tony Elliott — read a poem flecked with emotion and reflection following the 13 November shooting deaths of football players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry.

Joining Elliott in reading the poem were Jeannine Lalonde, associate dean of admission; Julie Caruccio, assistant vice president for research on the student experience; and long-serving economics professor Ken Elzinga.

“Three stars glow bright, above our heads tonight. Devin, Lavel and D’Sean, providing our light,” read Caruccio, who also serves as UVA’s mounted Cavalier, riding her steed, Sabre, into Scott Stadium before every home football game.

“Let us remember them all in the light that we share, and fuel any dim ember into an energetic glare,” said Elliott, who stood with his co-readers on a stage in front of a darkened Rotunda. “This semester has given us hard realities to face. But we face them together and we do so with grace.”

UVA Students Welcome Public Back to Lighting of the Lawn

Thursday’s highly anticipated event marked the first time the public was welcomed back to the Lawn for the annual event since 2019, due to the pandemic. It was evident by the size of the crowd that people were ready for a return to normal.

Before the programming began at 7 p.m., hundreds of people milled about the school’s famous greensward, checking out the food trucks, craft tables and a photo booth on the South Lawn.

Children raced about, making Christmas ornaments and enjoying free cookies, hot cocoa and cider.

Well, not every child.

Four-year-old Riley was not a fan of the hot cider. When asked if she liked it, the tight-lipped child shook her head furiously. No words needed. But she and her 6-year-old brother Nash were big fans of the cookies with sprinkles.

In opening remarks for the program, Lighting of the Lawn co-chair Lara Arif pointed out a new feature this year: the illuminated numbers of Davis’, Chandler’s and Perry’s respective jerseys — 1, 15, and 41. They were positioned prominently on a portico of the Rotunda.

“These will be the only lights on throughout the entirety of the performances and serve as a reminder for our community that there are three stars shining upon us tonight,” she said.

What followed were performances by dozens of student groups, led off by a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

As the program progressed, the congregation of students grew at the base of the Rotunda.

With the performances done, Arif and Vogel led the massive crowd in a 10-9-8 … countdown to the grand illumination of tens of thousands of LED lights strung around the Academical Village. It was capped off by a grand lightshow, cast on the Rotunda.

The Academical Village will be lit until the end of the month.

See the original story and more photos at UVA Today.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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