November 30, 2016

Purdue Memorial Union to celebrate holiday season

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The holiday season at Purdue University will kick off at approximately 12:30 p.m. Monday (Dec. 5) when the 25-foot-tall Christmas tree arrives at the Memorial Union's Great Hall.

The dwarf blue spruce, called "Fat Albert," is a gift from Purdue employees Barbara and Bruce Solomon of West Lafayette. Bruce, a retired analytical chemist, is a lecturer in the Department of Statistics and Barbara is a clinical professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, with a focus on the education of future speech-language pathologists. She specializes in medical speech-language pathology with an emphasis on the evaluation and treatment of voice disorders.

The Solomons' two sons received degrees from Purdue and the family has enjoyed visiting the tree at the Union for 35 years.

Purdue Student Union Board members will decorate the tree on Monday (Dec. 5) evening. Several other student organizations will decorate ornaments that will be placed on the tree. The tree lighting will be at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 6) and will feature Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

The 19th annual Holidays Around the World, arranged by the Student Union Board, will be 7-10 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 7). Several student organizations will perform and display their cultures and different holidays. Food items will be available to sample.

"The tree is called the Christmas tree because it symbolizes the Christmas holiday. Along with Christmas, the Student Union Board works to make sure several other holidays from many different cultures are celebrated," said Angelica McLean, program adviser at the Union. "We also represent Kwanza, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year and many other cultural celebrations throughout the year. Activities such as Holidays at the Union bring people together in ways that develop community and strengthen understanding of various cultures and traditions."

Groups scheduled to participate include the Purdue Italian Club, Purdue Muslim Student Association, Purdue Black Graduate Student Association, Purdue Hawaii Club, Purdue Spanish Club, Purdue LGBTQ Center, Purdue University Chinese Students & Scholars Association and Purdue German Culture Club. 

In addition, students and Purdue Dining & Catering on Nov. 21 began building a 12-foot-tall gingerbread house in the Great Hall.

As part of the celebration, local musicians and schools will perform holiday songs in the Great Hall from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 6-7). A list of performances is available here.

A Guess the Lights contest also will take place Dec. 6-18. The top three people who come closest to guessing the correct number of lights on the Christmas tree will receive prizes from local businesses. Guesses can be submitted in the Great Hall.

Breakfast with Santa will feature a free visit with Santa, holiday crafts and live music. The event will be 8-10:30 a.m. Dec. 10 in the Great Hall. The breakfast, sponsored by Pappy's Sweet Shop, is available for purchase in the South Ballroom. It includes pancakes, two sausage links and juice or milk. Coffee and hot chocolate will be available for purchase. Crafts also will be offered at the same time in the South Ballroom, as will story time with Mrs. Claus in Room 118.

The tree will be taken down on Dec. 19 so the last day to see it fully decorated is Dec. 18. McLean said the tree will be tested daily for compliance with the Indiana fire code. If it does not meet the requirements, then the tree will be removed from the building. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711,

Source: Angelica McLean, program adviser at Purdue Memorial Union, 765-494-8991, 

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