Tonight, thousands of students, faculty, and Charlottesville residents will gather in front of the Rotunda for the 16th annual Lighting of the Lawn. Beginning at 7pm, this celebration of the holiday season and the end of the semester will feature a capella performances and remarks from UVa students and community members. The night will conclude with a highly anticipated light show, which will leave the lawn illuminated for the entire month of December.
Lighting of the Lawn began in 2001 after the September 11th terror attacks. The tradition was established to bring together the community in reflection and healing. To this day, students appreciate just how powerful this event can be.
Most UVa students have attended LOTL each year. Upperclassmen say they are especially looking forward to this year’s event because the Rotunda is finally free of construction.
Fourth-year psychology and youth and social innovation double major Rachel Pugh remembers the particularly intense healing power that LOTL offered students in 2014.
“I’ll never forget the catharsis that LOTL brought in the wake of the Hannah Graham and Rolling Stones tragedies,” says Pugh.
Graduate student Allison Lettie echoed this sentiment, noting how the event also gives students a chance to step away from their everyday worries.
“LOTL is a chance for everyone to come together before the holidays. Right before finals is one of the hardest times of the year, and LOTL offers a chance to step away from those problems for a night,” says Lettie.
This year, the Lighting of the Lawn Committee is taking measures to ensure that all students feel welcome at the event. The Committee extended a personal invitation to all members of the UVa community through a University-wide email.
Matthew Golden, a fourth-year economics and psychology double major and LOTL co-chair, emphasizes the importance of inclusion in this year’s event.
“LOTL is an event that brings the community together. Thousands of people come to the Lawn to celebrate our shared identity,” says Golden.
Each year’s LOTL brings something special. Students recall one year the Purple Shadows handing out candles to everyone, another year beach balls, and another, glow sticks. This year, students wait in anticipation to see what Lighting of the Lawn 2016 will bring.