Fort Hays State University’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, in front of Sheridan Hall on the FHSU campus, at the corner of Park and West Sixth Streets.
“It is a kickoff to the holiday season for the university,” said Jacob Ternes, coordinator of Student Involvement.
The ceremony will open with a performance from the Dickens Carolers to get participants in the holiday spirit. Then the sponsors of the event will be recognized for their contributions.
After that, the winners of the annual coloring contest will be announced. Prizes will be awarded to the first-place coloring of each age group. The age groups are pre-kindergarten to kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade. Each group is given the same picture to color at the beginning of the contest, and contestants have a week and a half to color the picture and turn it in to their teachers. Then the colorings are collected and voted on.
Ternes said last year the contest had around 500 entries, and the committee narrowed it down to 15 colorings per age group. The Greek community then picked the winners. Winners this year will receive a big stuffed animal. The prizes are being donated by Wendy’s. All 15 finalists’ colorings will be displayed in the Dreiling lobby of Sheridan Hall the night of the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
After this, Mirta Martin, FHSU president will give her season’s greetings and begin the countdown to the lighting. Once the tree is lit, Santa will ride through on his sleigh and lead everyone inside Sheridan Hall to the Dreiling Lobby for hot chocolate and cookies.
In the lobby, participants will be able to take photos with Santa Claus. There will not be professional photos taken, but anyone is welcome to take his or her own photos.
“You don’t have to be a kid to sit on Santa’s lap,” Ternes said. Santa will carry a bag of gifts donated by Wendy’s. Each gift will contain a toy and a coupon for a junior Frosty.
Hay-rack rides will also be available outside of Sheridan Hall. The hay for the rides is being donated by the FHSU Farm; the tractor is being donated by Carrico Implement Company, Inc., 300 W. 48th St. The driver will be a fraternity member with tractor driving experience, Ternes said.
In the event of inclement weather, the speeches and announcements will be moved inside. The cold will not stop the ceremony—or Santa.
This event is being sponsored by FHSU Greek Life, the International Student Service Office, and the Office of the President, the University Activities Board, FHSU Athletics, and Wendy’s Restaurants. The International Student Services Office will provide lanterns that are to be set on the fountain in front of Sheridan Hall. These lanterns will have designs of flags from various countries around the world representing the diverse cultures of students attending FHSU.