The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s Annual Winter Carnival Returns for its 32nd Year

The annual tree lighting featured performances and fireworks.
Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson

St. John’s University held their annual Winter Carnival Dec. 4 on the Great Lawn to commemorate the lighting of the campus Christmas tree. The night featured performances by student groups complete with a fireworks show. 

The festivities began at 12 p.m. in the D’Angelo Center (DAC), with holiday movie screenings of “The Polar Express,” “Home Alone” and “The Santa Clause.” Continuing the celebration, Student Government Inc. (SGi)  hosted a dessert party in DAC from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m, with performances by the St. John’s Dance Team and SJU Sensación. 

Junior Emma Maceachen told The Torch of her excitement to see the fireworks and the tree lighting. “It’s a festive event I look forward to before the beginning of finals week.”

Before the show began, students had the chance to visit Mr. and Mrs. Claus and experience a performance by the St. John’s Stormettes Kickline. President Rev. Brian Shanley blessed the tree and gave a speech right before the lighting, which was counted down with excitement at 8:26 p.m. 

SJU Voices of Victory gospel choir also gave a performance before the fireworks commenced.

After the tree was lit, the annual fireworks show started one hour after it was advertised, beginning at approximately 8:30 p.m. This year’s display featured noticeably less fireworks and music than last year, possibly due to a fire that broke out on the Great Lawn during the display. 

“I will say they (the fireworks) ended fairly abruptly,” said junior Max Rodgers. “I thought the fire was hilarious, especially in front of the sign that says ‘the tradition continues.’ It felt like it was a nod to the chaos of the holidays.”

About half an hour after the fireworks were supposed to have ended, several more went off despite the carnival concluding — suggesting an error with the delivery. 

Following suit with several other Christmas lighting protests, such as the Rockefeller Center tree, student groups created and distributed fliers declaring the “cancellation of Christmas” in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jordan in solidarity with Gaza.

Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson

SJU’s Palestine Solidarity Committee made an Instagram post calling for students to gather at the lighting to show solidarity for Palestinians.

“As students of a privileged private Catholic University, how can we have Christmas celebrations when our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters cannot celebrate themselves? How can we stand by watching the lighting of Christmas trees and fireworks while there is a genocide of our indigenous people?”

Containing statistics of the deaths and injuries in Palestine, the flyers provided places to donate and reach out to Congressional members, as well as statements from Pope Francis and numbers of Christian organizations calling for ceasefire.

President Rev. Brian Shanley, who has not formally made a statement on the issue, provided his first public commentary on the safety and wellbeing of students to The Torch.

“We want all of our students to feel safe on campus. And I think we’ve done a decent job of keeping the campus safe and civil.”

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About the Contributor
Olivia Rainson, Social Media Manager & Asst. Features Editor
Olivia Rainson is a junior English major and creative writing minor serving as the Social Media Manager. She also works at the University Writing Center and is on the editorial board of the Intersections Literary Magazine. Olivia has been with the Torch since the beginning of her sophomore year, and when she isn’t writing, you can find her reading with an iced coffee. Olivia can be reached at [email protected]  

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