Campus embraces first annual tree lighting ceremony – By Cari Logston

“5…4…3…2…1!” The Christmas tree lit up and sparkled with brightly colored lights. Cheers arose from the students gathered outside The MacArthur Center as they watched the Tree Lighting Ceremony on Monday night. Pete Bargas, Associate Dean of Student Life, announced that this would be the first of many Tree Lighting Ceremonies in years to come. With the tree lit up and the students greatly outnumbering the available chairs, it was time for The Christmas Blend to begin.

Luke Dirkse was the first to perform a folksy rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” as he sang and played acoustic guitar. Mitchell Clevidence and Sheller Bates joined him on the banjo and ukulele.

Curt McClure took a classic approach to singing “The Christmas Song” with Abby Olson on piano.

Up next was Adam Castro on lead vocals and guitar, Elijah Paniagua on vocals and guitar, Phil Alimoren on vocals and piano, and Dave Gruchacz on cajon. The group sang “Baby Please Come Home,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “O Holy Night.”

It was a little less than 60 degrees outside—which allowed for the students’ enjoyment of the coffee and hot chocolate provided in addition to an array of desserts.

Marcy McClure, joined by her mother and sister, sang “Winter Wonderland” in three-part harmony. The students joined in clapping along to the cheery tune.

The Gibb sisters—Jen, Tiffany, and Emily—formed another trio and sang a classic version of “Silent Night.”

Sergio and his crew performed an intricate a cappella version of “Mary Did You Know?” by Pentatonix. This received loud applause from the students in addition to Ryan Bennett’s comment, “Well I’m sure Mary knows now!” before announcing the next performance.

As this year’s ASB Chaplain, Bennett was the host for the evening. “The Blend exists to create a relaxed, on-campus gathering that’s fun for the student body” Bennett said.

Brittany Anderson took the stage solo with her acoustic guitar and sang Taylor Swift’s contemporary version of “Silent Night.”

Phil Alimoren and Michaela Johnson sang the classic version of “White Christmas.” TMC Alumni, Lyle Michaud, played piano in accompaniment.

Rachel Snider and Amanda Stabbert sang “Winter Wonderland” as a duet with Sarah Yoder on piano.

Bennett brought up Troye Christmas to announce the next performance, Jo Ko, who played “White Christmas” on the guitar.

To finish out the event, Daniel Morales, Sarah Owinyo, and Stevie Noch sang “White Winter Hymnal” in three-part harmony. Then, Owinyo and Noch sang “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” with Noch on the ukulele.

“It was surprising to me how many students showed up for this event!” said Kari Anne Frazer, a sophomore at TMC, in regards to the overwhelming support for the student’s talents. “It was nice to be out enjoying the SoCal ‘Christmas’ weather while spending time together as a student body.”

By Cari Logston

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