With the Cathedral of Learning as an illuminated background, the William Pitt Union was filled… With the Cathedral of Learning as an illuminated background, the William Pitt Union was filled with holiday cheer on Tuesday night.
Student Government Board, in cooperation with the Division of Student Affairs, presented the first Pitt Light Up Night. Designed to expose students and faculty members to the various religious celebrations observed during winter, Light Up Night offered food, music and a bit of holiday cheer.
“We wanted to have a way to bring all of the holidays together,” said Liz Blasi, SGB board member and coordinator of the event. “I’m shocked. I had no idea it would be this big.”
The size of the crowd in attendance could be measured by looking at one of the promotions SGB offered for the event: Fliers and advertisements for Light Up Night offered free T-shirts to those in attendance.
The event began at 5 p.m. By 5:18 p.m., Blasi said, all 400 shirts were gone.
She estimated that the crowd reached about 1,000 people during the course of the event. From those wandering through the organization-sponsored tables to the students igniting marshmallows at portable s’mores-makers, the crowd was steady the entire night.
Various student organizations, including the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, Hillel Jewish University Center and SGB, were represented at the event. Activities ranged from Christmas card-making to Arabic name-writing.
Leah Schneier, president of Hillel, was happy to see a variety of religions showcased at the event. She said she felt that the diversity displayed at Light Up Night gave students the opportunity to learn about celebrations they might not have been previously exposed to.
“A lot of people think Hanukkah is a major Jewish holiday, but it isn’t,” she said. “It appears to be so because it is so close to Christmas. We still go to school and everything. It’s just a fun holiday.”
Various musical groups — including the Heinz Chapel Choir, the University Handbell Ensemble, the Women’s Choral Ensemble and several pianists — also entertained those in attendance.
Students were enthusiastic about the newly created event.
“It’s really cute. I’d like to see them add more,” junior Kristy Parker said of the University Handbell Ensemble.
“Yeah, I thought it sounded cool,” freshman Christiana Ayirebi said, agreeing with Parker.
The third member of their group, junior Jacob Winkler, had a different outlook on the event.
“I came here to display my talent as an eater of foods,” he said.
Whether students came looking for information about Diwali and Kwanzaa or were just looking for winter fun, Blasi said she tried to meet their needs.
“It’s been a great time,” she said.