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Calvin students’ preparations make a successful “Light in the Night”

Junior Chess Van Wyk dressed up as a character from "Up" for "Light in the Night." Photo by Ryan Hagerman
Junior Chess Van Wyk dressed up as a character from "Up" for "Light in the Night." Photo by Ryan Hagerman

A tiny boy, dressed as Speed Racer, picks a Smartie roll out of a pile. The boy smiles and walks on; he is determined to get as much candy as possible. Behind him, a line of children and parents fill the hallway as they trick-or-treat around the apartment complexes during Light in the Night.

Light in the Night is an annual event for Calvin College. Students living in the on-campus apartments prepare for weeks. Each apartment complex has a theme that the residents decorated and dressed up for. This year, Alpha was circus-themed, Beta was the Olympics, Delta was “Toy Story,” Gamma was “Up,” Kappa was “Finding Nemo,” Phi-Chi was Candy Land, Theta-Epsilon was “The Avengers,” and Zeta-Lambda was the jungle. Each apartment competed to be voted the best-decorated complex.

The event takes a lot of planning and depends on donations from the Calvin community and the Grand Rapids community. Jana Biegel, assistant area coordinator for the Knollcrest East apartments, talked about the people involved who make Light in the Night possible.

“There is tons of work that goes into preparing for the Light in the Night. In mid-September we send out letters to local businesses asking for donations for the event,” she said.

“We also put donation boxes around Calvin’s campus to collect candy from faculty, staff, and students,” Biegel continued. “Information about candy donations as well as volunteering for [the] night was put in CalvinNews and StudentNews. The leadership team and myself plan carnival games, prepare the luminary milk jugs to light the path, [and] other details. The event would not be possible without donations and volunteers.”

One of those volunteers was resident assistant Joshua Song, who helped prepare Theta-Epsilon for the event.

“I made decorations, bought candy, prayed, and bought this t-shirt,” Song said, pointing to his tight-fitting Captain America t-shirt, “which is a child’s size.”

Mark Campbell II, resident assistant of Delta, also helped his apartment complex decorate.

“We have been decorating each apartment with streamers, butcher paper, and painting windows. Buying candy, each apartment was supposed to have 400 pieces of candy.”

Biegel estimates about 1,000 people came to the event. The night is a way for the communities of Calvin College and Grand Rapids to interact with each other.

“This year marks the 18th year for Light in the Night,” she said. “It continues to be a family-friendly, indoor, safe place for the community to come trick-or-treating. The event has been an outreach for the community to welcome them to Calvin’s campus. It also provides a way for the Knollcrest East students to engage with the Grand Rapids community.”

Many of the students involved with the night enjoyed the visitors. As she passed out candy, Sandra Flores, a junior, talked about her favorite part of the night.

“[My favorite part is] seeing kids, because when you live on campus, kids aren’t a part of normal college life,” she explained. “They bring a unique type of happiness.”

They also bring unique costumes, Campbell noted.

“I saw numerous Darth Vaders, Jedis, ninjas, football players male and female, construction men and many kids were dressed as elves or bears or lions,” Campbell said. “I even saw a whole family of pirates: mom, dad and kids.”

Campbell, relating one humorous anecdote, said the kids enjoyed the residents’ costumes.

“Our theme was Toy Story, and many residents dressed as Toy Story characters, and one student was dressed as Ham, but these children would just shout ‘Pig!’ and so there was a chorus of kids walking by chanting ‘Pig! Pig! Pig! Pig!’” he said, laughing in between words.

Song suggested that the effort invested in Light in the Night is rewarded by a deeper connection with the neighborhoods surrounding the college.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s good that Calvin is very intentional in being involved with the community,” he said.

On Sunday, Biegel announced the winners of the decoration contest. Kappa won first place, and Alpha won second.

About the Author

Ryan Hagerman

Ryan Hagerman is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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