Students and Bloomington residents are invited to the Indiana Memorial Union to visit the fourth annual Light Up the Night holiday celebration event at 7 p.m. Thursday at the IMU Circle Drive and Robel Plaza.
“It’s one of my favorite events of the year because it’s a little kick off to the end of the semester,” said Teresa Weimann, Associate Director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.
For over 50 years, the IMU has lit up two large candles to recognize the start of the holiday season. The candles are lit Dec. 1 and will remain lit until the new year.
The “candles” fashioned out of string lights hang on the east and west towers of the IMU. The candle on the Biddle Hotel tower is 80 feet tall and features 150 red bulbs and 33 white bulbs; its counterpart on the Student Involvement Tower is 60 feet tall, with 88 red bulbs and 34 white bulbs.
The Indiana Memorial Union board will pass out small faux candles so the audience can join in as the candles are lit.
The event will offer a variety of activities and refreshments. Students can skate on a synthetic ice rink or visit the winter holiday market with a variety of local artists, jewelers and thrifted-clothing stores. Kona Ice will offer hot chocolate, and Sugar and Spice will have wassail, a cider drink. Sugar and Spice will also be giving out free gingerbread cookies, Weimann said.
“It’s more than just commemorating the holiday season,” she said. “The holiday season is a time that we get to spend with people who matter to us: our community.”
Jada Collins, an IU senior and SILC Program Manager intern, said she is most looking forward to seeing the featured performances by the IU Crimsonettes Dance Team and the all-gender a cappella group Resting Pitch Face.
For Collins, holiday events like Light Up the Night can bring students some comfort during this time of year.
“While we’re all in college, a lot of us don’t have additional support systems, and we’re not with family,” she said. “Coming out to an event like this can definitely help students feel the same type of way that they do at home.”
To kick off this year’s candle lighting, IMU board president Diptanshu Rao and IU Student Government President senior Kyle Seibert will partner to light up the displays. Rao and Seibert will each share a few words with the audience before they begin the celebration.
Seibert plans to share IUSG’s winter projects with the crowd, including their work with the Crimson Cupboard satellite office in the IMU. An IU food pantry, the Crimson Cupboard works to support students experiencing food insecurity on campus. Seibert said the cupboard’s primary location on North Union Street can often take students far out of their way. The IMU location offers those students a more centrally located option. To support the Crimson Cupboard, IUSG donated $5,000 to both locations this semester. Now, IUSG is looking into how they can further support the program in the future, Seibert said.
“Thousands of students access that service,” Seibert said. “We thought that it was really important, especially in the holiday season, that they were still able to buy food and supplies for the students who access that resource.”
Seibert said he visited Light Up the Night for the first time last year. After the lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he enjoyed seeing the student body join together again.
“It’s just another opportunity for people to come together and hopefully relax for a little bit before the craziness of finals week,” Seibert said.
Guests are encouraged to dress warmly and check out the variety of local artists and attractions offered Thursday. The event is free to the public. More details can be found on Visit Bloomington’s website.