In just one day, the annual Lighting of the Lawn (LOTL) celebration will kick off. The seventeen-year-long tradition takes place right before classes come to a close and the chaos of final exams begins. Students and faculty will flock to the center of the Academical Village from 7-10 pm on Thursday night to commemorate the semester’s end and the holiday season prior to departing grounds for a month of break.
The three-hour event will feature a series of performances by UVa and Charlottesville a cappella and dance groups. Professors and administrators will read each academic year their designated class poem and the finale will include a light show in which over 11,000 bulbs will flicker to the beat of several musical hits. The brightened Rotunda will be the main attraction.
The 2017 event’s theme is “Be the Light.”
“LOTL is meant to inspire delight in new and different ways each year,” explained executive co-chair of this year’s event, Denny Smythe. “Our theme, ‘Be the Light’ will hopefully inspire attendees to spread positivity as well as experience a positive evening of fun with friends on the Lawn.”
The event is known for being more than a casual gathering of the UVa community to celebrate the semester’s conclusion. The fourth year Media and American Studies major noted his personal connection to the annual festivity.
“Lighting of the Lawn…has meant a lot more than the holiday season or a break from studying,” Smythe explained. “It has always served as a memory of the strength of UVa.[My] first year here included a lot of divisive[ness] and pain…locally and nationally [for] our community in particular.”
Just like four years ago, this year’s LOTL will also serve as a time of reflection, compassion, and resiliency.
After the violence that occurred on grounds and throughout Charlottesville in August, tomorrow’s event will echo the origins of the first LOTL. The annual tradition in fact, was started just after 9/11 in 2001 to inspire unity and support throughout UVa in the wake of the national tragedy.
The response at LOTL is always one of a kind according to co-chair Holly Stevens.
“I don’t think you can find the electric atmosphere of LOTL anywhere else,” she said. “It’s the holidays, the hope for the new year, and the community warmth that makes this just so special. It reminds you how thankful you are to be part of this place–something bigger than yourself.”
Lighting of the Lawn cannot come soon enough for Smythe.
“The light show is a fantastic spectacle that wows us more and more each year, singing the good ole song inspires school pride while linking arms with strangers, and the poem serves as a reflection for [each class] here at UVa to remember the good, the bad, and the hilarious,” the fourth year continued. “There is a reason that many students here call LOTL their most fond tradition.”
To watch the live stream of LOTL tomorrow from 7-10 pm, click here. The new security policy used at Scott Stadium and John Paul Jones Arena will remain in place for Thursday’s event.