Biola tree lighting kicks off the Christmas season

Vendor booths, California snow and Dr. Barry Corey make appearances at the event.


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Biola celebrates the beginning of December with the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Phoebe Vrable, News Editor

On Dec. 2, Alumni Engagement hosted the annual Christmas Tree Lighting event, which has been a Biola tradition since 1984. For the first time this year, families were invited to shop at vendor booths prior to the main ceremony. The booths featured holiday gifts and confectionery from businesses including hand-painted wood calligraphy ornaments from senior master of management and nonprofit organizations Emily Sagherian, a custom woodworking vendor and sweet treats from Dolce Vita Bakery, run by Executive Assistant to the President Michele Byerly.  

At 6 p.m., Chase Gymnasium opened its doors for guests to begin finding seats. Inside, soft white fog lingered in the air, illuminated by warm blue lights and snowflakes projected onto the stage’s backdrop. The seating rapidly filled to the brim with students as well as many visiting families. 


Director of Alumni and Family Engagement Stephanie Ramirez opened the ceremony at 7 p.m. with a warm welcome to students and visitors after a Scripture reading video. She highlighted Biola alumni who are currently “living as a light in their respective fields.” Following the welcome, students performed Christmas-themed songs, including a “Joy to the World” medley.

Associate Dean of School of Fine Arts and Communication Joy Qualls read a Christmas poem about Christ’s incarnation mid-way through the songs. 2012 political science major Havilah Steinman Bakken, 2009 nursing student Amanda Hasegawa, 2008 physical science major David Sloan, 2021 doctoral ministry graduate Kelly Douglass and other alumni then read Scripture passages about Christmas and encouraged students to be lights in their communities. 

The audience members were then invited to turn on their candles and sing “Silent Night.” 

President Dr. Barry Corey then welcomed Biolans and their families. He introduced his son Andrew, daughter-in-law Ashley and first baby granddaughter Charlotte. He encouraged attendees to “be a bright light for Christ wherever [they] go.” After a countdown from ten, baby Charlotte pressed the button to light up the stunningly decorated Biola Christmas tree. 

The ceremony closed with more student-led Christmas carols and fake snow as families walked to Metzger Lawn to see the Christmas tree in person. 

Correction: December 15, 2022

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the 2012 alumna who read a Scripture passage during the tree lighting. She is Havilah Steinman Bakken, not Bakker. 

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