Washburn Alumni Association lights up the campus for the holidays


Shaina Moravec

Campus of Lights: Shaina Moravec is the one in charge of the effort to decorate the university this year. Her work will bring joy to the community this year.

The Washburn Alumni Association and Foundation have enlisted the services of Holiday FX to decorate the campus with lights in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.

With COVID-19 still presenting a threat to gatherings on campus, the Alumni Association decided to use some of its funds that would have gone to other events for decorating the campus with thousands of holiday lights. Shaina Moravec, Director of Donor Relations, is leading the effort from a planning perspective.

“This is one of those bright spots in COVID,” said Moravec.

With so many events canceled due to the pandemic, many Washburn students, faculty, staff and alumni members feel disjointed with the campus. They would normally be holding tailgates, concerts and other big celebrations this time of year.

While not the most interactive activity for Washburn students and alumni, hanging holiday lights reminds people this fall and winter that the campus is not as quiet as it seems.

“We just wanted to bring a lot of holiday cheer to Washburn,” said Sarah Towle, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We normally engage with donors and alumni throughout the year, but COVID has presented a lot of problems with that. This was a way for people to socially distance while being outside and still enjoy the campus over the holidays.”

Over 2,500 lights will be strung over the rooftops at the university. An additional 30,000 are going to be placed on some of the art displays and trees. The lights are the work of two crews from Holiday FX, a company based out of Kansas City, that handles large-scale lighting jobs.

“If we can bring a little bit of joy to our students or give our alumni a reason to drive past campus that’d be great,” said Alumni Association President Marshall Meek. “We really miss our people at football tailgates and events on campus. We’re excited to be able to do something for them this year.”

The project is being funded completely by the Alumni Association and the Board of Trustees. Each is taking on half the cost. According to Moravec, money was taken out of the events budget for holiday parties and specific winter events in order to fund this project.

The holiday lights will be turned on in the first week of December and left on until January. If there is a lot of positive feedback, they will be left on for a while longer.

“We hope that students, if they’re not on campus, come back and take a walk around,” said Moravec. “We’re hoping this brings a little more holiday cheer for them this year.”

Edited by Jason Morrison and Abbie Barth.