Observers from all corners of Emporia and the campus gathered to gaze at the twinkling beauty of the annually-lit Holiday star atop of Plumb Hall. The lighting was followed by the Community Christmas Parade Tuesday night.
“President Flentje, shortly before 7 p.m., (flipped) on the star that is on top of Plumb Hall,” said Gwen Larson, assistant director of marketing and media relations. “The Parade featured a float competition, including the beef feast float, floats made by churches, a Newman Regional Health float that is drawing attention to their new campaign to raise money for their breast cancer center, ESU’s band, Emporia high school’s band and things like that.”
Larson said ESU’s location in relation to town makes the university a desirable beacon for the start of the Community Christmas Parade.
“Plumb hall sits at the end of 12th Ave. and Emporia always runs their parades starting at 4th Ave. and ending on 12th,” Larson said. “Basically, as each float is finishing up the parade, they see the star.”
Larson said the star can also be seen in town from all directions.
“I remember when I came to ESU for a campus visit when I was a senior in high school,” said Rachal Davidson, freshman psychology major. “As my dad was driving toward the highway to go home to Leavenworth, I saw the star and it was my final impression of the campus.”
But the star lighting is not just for aesthetic purposes – it symbolizes the relationship between ESU and the surrounding community.
“The star lighting is a way that ESU can continue to support the community of Emporia and become a part of the community instead of holding ourselves apart,” Larson said. “The nice thing about the star is it is a universal symbol of the holidays without singling out any one type of observance.”
Larson said the star is set on a timer and will stay lit daily from dusk to dawn. It was designed to stay atop of Plumb Hall throughout the year and is easily elevated during the holiday season.
The star lighting is an ESU tradition while the Community Christmas Parade is a local tradition that has been going on for over 30 years.
“I was on the phone with my aunt the other night, who graduated from ESU in the stone ages,” said Haley Louthan, freshman elementary education major. “She was the one who told me about these two events, so it definitely must have been going on for a quite some time.”
Louthan said that the star serves as a quirky decorative piece that shines with charm and elegance throughout campus.