Christmas Tree Lighting returns Tuesday night

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The Fort Worth and Horned Frog communities will unite Tuesday to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with TCU’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

The event, which starts at 6:30 in the Campus Commons, has been celebrated for more than 40 years.

“It’s gone from a small campus event, to a large community-wide program,” said Brad Thompson, assistant director of student activities. “The tree lighting has become something truly valuable to our student body and our surrounding community.”

Thompson said guests can expect a 43-foot Christmas tree, 2,000 more lights than last year and a more dramatic fireworks display.

“I love that we have a strong tradition that students really respond to that’s not very complicating or complex,” Thompson said. “But we tweak it every year to give our students and the community something new to look forward to.”

Thompson said various activities and displays catering to students and families will be offered, including hot chocolate bars, green screen backdrops and photographs taken with SuperFrog Santa.

“We will have a fake reindeer display of cows dressed as reindeer, and a display with real reindeer,” Thompson said. “Children can also participate in activities including writing letters to Santa.”

Courtney Tulbert, a local resident, said she and her family have attended the TCU tree lighting every year they have lived in Fort Worth.

“We love seeing alumni, current students and future students come together to kick off the Christmas season,”Tulbert said. “There’s always so much to do for the little ones and the students are so great with them. We love seeing the current students make Christmas at TCU so special for the children and the rest of the community.”

Thompson said there are many activities for kids, but the event is created with students in mind.

“We do this event for our students, because we know they are paying for it,” he said. “It’s still a unique blend of a great community event, but one that students love.”

Thompson said Order of Omega will host a gift drive, where guests can donate gifts to the 500 local children the organization is sponsoring this year for the holidays.

“A lot of people are contributing toward this year’s tree lighting in their own different way,” Thompson said. “We will have roughly 40 volunteers from different campus and area organizations.”

He said music will be performed at both ends of Campus Commons. A TCU alumn will perform classic holiday music with a band. Members of TCU Acapella Society will perform by Frog Fountain.

Thompson said he and his team have planned for more than 6,500 people to attend the tree lighting this year.

“Last year, we counted more than 6,000 attendees at the tree lighting,” Thompson said. “Because of its growing success, we budgeted $30,000 for this year’s event.”

He said in years past the event has cost between $17,000 and $22,000.

“We’re always making it better and trying to make it a stronger program,” Thompson said. “We try and create a large gathering point for TCU’s student community, but also for the Fort Worth community.”