Annual tree lighting receives makeover

The annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony included virtual candles for the first time.


Marika Adamopoulos//THE CHIMES (file)

Biolans celebrate the start of the Christmas season at the tree lighting ceremony.

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

A sea of red and green filled the seats. Christmas joy filled the air. The time has come for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree, which was on Nov. 30.


The night kicked off with a Charlie Brown clip about the true meaning of Christmas and continued with this theme the rest of the night. The worship band led students, alumni, parents and community members in singing Christmas carols, including “What A Glorious Night” and “Silent Night.”

“The worship kept things lively and [helped to] really remember the true meaning of Christmas,”  said Stephanie Chan, sophomore kinesiology major. “It was also enjoyable clapping along with the worship team.”


While the worship was part of the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, this year a new element was added with the Wham City Lights app. The app implemented a new tradition of virtual candles, where each candle was lit as one phone touched another.

The virtual candles were quite different from having real candles, and students had mixed feelings about this change.  

“I prefer not the virtual [candles],”said Noemi Nesta, sophomore elementary education major. “I liked that I was able to hold it, [and] it was more intimate last year to pass it to someone who I didn’t know.”

Many students agree with Nesta, including Chan who thinks having real candles is more memorable. However, other students liked trying this new aspect of “passing the flame” virtually.

“I thought the candle on my phone was fun…because I liked trying something new and I had never heard of that before,” said Brody O’Brien, junior business major.

Besides the virtual candles and worship, students and alumni read Scripture, including some in different languages. Of course, there was also the actual lighting of the tree by Alton Lim, the largest donor in Biola’s history given for the new science building.


The night was a great celebration of Christmas despite a few technological kinks, including the app demo, the sound and lights going out briefly and the tree lights blinking on after several tries.

“My favorite part was all the kids dancing and these girls saying ‘amen,’” said Christine DeLaby, freshman business management major. “Just the joyful aspect of praising Jesus was enjoyable.”


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