Holiday cheer unites Aggies, locals


Photos by Charlene Belew and Jacob Jardel

Charlene Belew
Managing Editor

Aggies and southwest Oklahoma residents gathered on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 for Cameron University’s annual Christmas tree lightings.

CU-Duncan led the Christmas cheer with the first of the two CU tree lightings. From 6-8 p.m. each night, Lawtonians or Duncanites and Aggies alike gathered for the social evening, complete with cookie decorating, horse drawn carriages and Ole Kim himself.

Both events featured Christmas music, a background to the happy chatter that filled the early part of the evening.

Lawton and Duncan both featured cookie-decorating stations for children of all ages, and in turn, almost 800 perfectly cut ginger bread girls and boys were used between the two nights.

Deborah Wilson, a Sodexo employee who has headed the cookie table for seven years, helped children decorate their gingerbread people with sugar frosting, coconut shreds, M&M’s and a variety of other sugary treats.

“They love this,” Wilson said about the girls and boys surrounding the table. “This is the best part of the deal – these cookies.”

Attendees also roasted marshmallows to make their own s’mores and made Christmas themed paper crafts.

Both trees lit at about 6:30 p.m. each night. In both instances, University President John McArthur, flanked by Ole Kim in a Santa hat, gathered children to aid in the lighting of the tree.

McArthur instructed the children in both groups to face the North Pole – Santa’s home – grab their ears and say “Santa Claus!” on the count of three. The trees magically lit, and both audiences cheered at the sight.

After Lawton’s lighting, the CU Centennial Singers charmed the crowd with several Christmas tunes and carols. At both holiday events, people lined up to ride the horse-drawn carriages. Two were seen at the main campus, while one entertained the Duncan crowd. Others helped themselves to the mountain of goodies provided at the gathering, including cereal treats, brownies, cookies and popcorn.

McArthur said both holiday events help establish unity between the university and surrounding communities.

“Cameron’s part of Lawton,” McArthur said, “and we want to celebrate with our neighbors from nearby neighborhoods [and] the children of our students and our employees. It’s a special evening.

“My favorite events are the academic events, like Convocation and Commencement, but this is a favorite for a different reason – because it’s one of the few events that is open to the whole community. It’s a great event for that reason.”

Senior Director for Public Affairs Josh Lehman said the annual festivities provide an opportunity to say “thank you” to Aggie supporters.

“It’s a great way to kick off the season with fellowship, food and fun for the whole family,” Lehman said. “It’s coming to the end of the fall semester, but it kicks off the holiday season. It’s right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas; it’s crisp in the air here – it’s just a good night for everybody.”


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