The temperature resting right below 30 degrees couldn’t stop students from swarming the 500 free mugs from the Alumni Center with free Wii chocolate bars from the Armand Hammer Center staff. Students began pushing through 30 minutes before the event was marked to begin.
“You can only keep the crowds off for so long,” Student Association Event Coordinator Dailey Whitehouse said before talking to fellow planners through her two-way radio.
ORU’s Student Association, Alumni Relations and Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center partnered to host ORU’s annual Christmas lighting ceremony.
Cookies, brownies and hot chocolate provided by SA vanished in a matter of minutes. Seventy-five gallons of hot chocolate disappeared just as quickly as the 50 gallons did at last year’s event.
“I got in line at 7:30 to get a mug. I was outside for 45 minutes, and now I can’t feel my toes. But you know what? It was worth it,” said junior Billy Barrantes.
The Hammer Center counted over 1,600 people between 8-9:45 p.m.
The turnout surprised many, exceeding previous year’s estimates. Oklahoma’s Own News on 6 covered and filmed at the event for the first time.
“This is something we do in our home every year,” President Billy Wilson said to the crowd spilling past ORU’s prayer gardens. First lady Lisa Wilson proceeded to read “The Christmas Story” to hundreds of attendees including students, faculty and alumni before live music began.
“I got to see my friends sing in ‘Silent Night’ Spanish, Korean and English. I was really proud of them,” said Barrantes.
This was SA’s first year bringing in a horse-drawn carriage. The free ride looped around the lit path while acapella groups and artists performed Christmas tunes.
“I was having so much fun and kind of felt like I was Queen Elizabeth in the carriage. It was one of the most magical moments I’ve had in a long time,” said Nancy Shereni.
Elves, students wrapped as Christmas presents, Narnia characters and the Grinch were among the many costumes competing for 30 free Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One tickets.
The night ended with a showing of “Elf” with every seat just as filled as the Christmas cheer in the room.