Transforming Merrimack College’s Campus into a Christmas Wonderland

The College’s facilities team starts hanging lights and putting up Christmas trees in early November to decorate the campus in time for the Christmas season and for students to enjoy before the winter break.
Photo of a Christmas tree next to a Merrimack College banner.
Each year, Merrimack sets up Christmas trees at Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher, Cullen Avenue next to the Deegan residence halls and the Athletics Hall of Fame lobby.

It does not require the same level of execution as setting up for Commencement, but getting Merrimack College’s campus decorated for the Christmas season is one of the bigger projects the College’s facilities team tackles every year.

“I’ve been here for five and half years and each year we do more and more,” said John Waters, facilities and grounds manager. “We start putting lights up around Veterans Day to get everything completed in time for the Celebration of Light and Hope. As the College continues to grow, so do our campus Christmas displays.”

The focal point of the College’s Christmas decorations are the more than 100,000 lights that are strewn across campus. Then there are the three Christmas trees purchased from a farm in Quebec, Canada. One 35-foot tree goes up on the lawn next to the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher, another goes on Cullen Avenue next to the Deegan residence halls, which is used for the College’s tree lighting celebration, and a 15-foot tree goes in the Athletics Hall of Fame lobby.

A new addition to the College’s exterior Christmas set up this year is a Nativity Set near Gladstone Plaza and the Labyrinth. Fr. Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president for mission and ministry, helped to purchase the statues and the facilities team built the stable and manger.

The interior decoration of campus buildings and spaces is overseen by Lisa Garcia, manager of facilities services. That includes setting up 15 fake Christmas trees and hanging wreaths, as well as wrapping garland around staircase railings in Austin Hall, the Arcidi Center and the Sakowich Campus Center.

“We spend months planning and setting up,” said Waters. “A lot of the time is spent out in the freezing cold but the team enjoys it and we always get a great response from the campus community.”

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