An Evening of Tradition: Elizabethtown’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner and Tree Lighting
One of the most highly anticipated E-town traditions is the annual Thanksgiving dinner. This year, the dinner was held on Wednesday, Nov. 20, and as usual, students came out in numbers. Each year, the dining room is transformed with festive decorations and white linens on the tables to prepare for the elaborate meal served to students by faculty, staff, and alumni. Differing from the daily buffet style of the marketplace, students sit and enjoy the meal as it is served directly to the table. It serves as an appetizer to the holiday season that is to come and gives students and early little taste of home.
This tradition was started in 1973 by Wayne Boyer, the Director of Dining Services at the time. It was his idea to begin serving a more formal Thanksgiving dinner to students. He wanted the meal to be served family-style to emphasize the feeling of a home-cooked meal. It was his hope that this meal would bring the campus community together, and the tradition still achieves that goal today.
The holiday-themed meal includes a main course, side dishes, and dessert. To prepare for this meal, dining services purchased 900 pounds of turkey, over 700 pounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing, over 100 dozen rolls, and almost 150 pies, along with all of the other side dishes. Preparation starts a week in advance to make this meal possible.
Following the dinner, students took the opportunity to get “family” portraits taken by a professional photographer with friends and peers. A great way to commemorate the evening each year. Furthermore, the tradition continued later that evening with the annual tree lighting, holiday performances, and a Christmas story read by our president. At the tree lighting, students enjoyed complimentary hot chocolate and dessert treats. In her first year, President McCormick read a familiar story based on A Charlie Brown Christmas but with a Blue Jay twist.
During this busy time in the semester, these E-town traditions are a way for students to take a break and simply enjoy their time on campus.
“The Thanksgiving dinner tradition is a time when I can forget all of the school work and meetings that I have,” said current E-town junior Rachel Freed. “I can have an amazing experience with the family I have made on this campus.”
The Thanksgiving dinner and tree lighting ceremony brings the campus community together to celebrate the holiday season before the end of the semester. This night gives us all the opportunity to enjoy an evening of tradition.