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U.Va. hosts 15th annual Lighting of the Lawn

Ceremony includes poetry reading, performances, light show

The University hosted its annual Lighting of the Lawn ceremony, complete with a light show, poetry reading and a capella performances.

Beginning in 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks, LOTL aims to bring the University community and the greater Charlottesville area together to foster a sense of camaraderie and reflect on the past year. In recent years over 7,000 people have attended the event.

After a series of harrowing events last year — including the Rolling Stone scandal and student deaths — LOTL Director of Programs Andrew Burrill said he believed the theme “How the Grinch Tried to Steal Wahoowa” reflected the uncrushed spirit of the community.

“I think that after every incident last year, we came together as a community to really create and manifest a greater identity, almost like a renaissance of UVa. culture,” Burrill said.

This year, with the help of the University Drama Department — particularly Professor Lee Kennedy — the ceremony hopes to showcase multiple aspects of arts on Grounds.

This year, the event will include 29 performances including a capella groups, Radio Music Society, dance groups and even groups from local elementary and high schools.

“If we have so many powerful artistic groups and we’re already guaranteed an audience, why not enhance it?” Burrill said. “Something that is celebrating 15 years of spreading light through the power of performance.”

The show has multiple aspects to it, but the finale will be the Rotunda light show after all the rest of the performances.

Kevin Seitter, who graduated in the fall, was first approached in 2012 during his second year about creating the software that allows the lights on the Rotunda to change colors with the music. After a successful first year, he has enjoyed creating the light show ever since, he said.

“I want to make something that lets people completely get lost in it, to forget about finals or whatever and just watch the lights,” Seitter said.

With the event now in its 15th year, the show will include two narrators who will guide the community through the history, the past, the present and the future of Lighting of the Lawn. For the first time, the whole event will be broadcast via a live stream.

Closing the ceremony was a poem reading by University President Teresa Sullivan and Profs. Larry Sabato and Ken Elzinga.

Community Voices on Lighting of the Lawn

“The Sils love performing in Lighting of the Lawn each year because there is such an exciting energy that surrounds the holiday season at U.Va. and LOTL is when all of that energy really culminates.” –Anna Rigby, President of the Sil’hooettes

“It’s not just some big celebration, but something people leave remembering why they’re a part of this community.” – Malcolm Stewart, 2013 Second Year Council President

“Having attended every Lighting of the Lawn since my first year, this Lighting of the Lawn is very special to me as I will be reflecting not only on this past year, but all of my years at the University. I am very excited to see old and new friends and reminisce on past memories with them.” –Andrew Kwon, 2016 Fourth Year Trustees President

“The Lighting of the Lawn was originally conceived in 2001 as a way to bring students and other members of the UVA community together after the tragic events of September 11. In the years since then, the Lighting of the Lawn has become an annual U.Va. tradition that inspires and unites our community in the spirit of the holiday season.” –President Teresa Sullivan

“There are sporting events where all of the University will go, but there’s never like an arts event that you know a huge amount of people will turn out to, but it really allows different art groups to perform in front of the whole community.” –Sara Lee, President of X-Tasse

“One thing that’s really cool about it is that it comes at such a stressful time for everyone that it’s nice that there’s this event that everyone can just forget about all their stuff for a night and come together as a community.” –Alison Lenert, President of the Virginia Belles