Lights On Seminary Hall to kick off holiday season
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Feature, Campus

Lights On Seminary Hall to kick off holiday season

Published 11/28/17

Marissa Mitchell

TNE Writer

For years, the Lights On Seminary Hall ceremony has brought to the NSU and Tahlequah community a proper kick off for the holiday season. The ceremony includes the lighting of the Christmas lights on Seminary Hall, the telling of Christmas stories, holiday singing and dancing and a chance to visit with the big man himself, Santa Claus.

At this year’s Lights On, expect holiday performances galore. Performances include acts from the River City Players, the Academy of Performing Arts and Tahlequah High School Show Choir just to name a few.

Micheal Rappe, Muskogee graduate student, has had the opportunity to perform in various ways at the Lights On ceremony since 2012.

“This is an event that promotes a few of my favorite things,” said Rappe. “I love the feeling of the community coming together to share in not only this NSU/Tahlequah tradition but also in each other family tradition. I love seeing the wonder on the children's faces as they get ready to meet Santa. I love to look out into the crowd as I sing and see all the people that are singing along with me. It’s a feeling of home and it’s a feeling of Christmas.”

This year’s ceremony will be presented by Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols and NSU First Lady Penny Turner with special guests NSU President Steve Turner and Miss NSU 2017. For an extra special holiday treat, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and their loyal elves will attend the ceremony.

Dr. Robyn Pursley, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, has been involved with the Lights On ceremony since 2008 and has had the pleasure of coordinating the whole event. Year after year, Pursley has brought a new, creative aspect to the event. From keepsake ornaments to Santa on a scooter, these things bring smiles to all that attend the ceremony.

“Santa arrived to the event on a pink motorized scooter one year,” said Pursley. “That was a lot of fun holding driving practice with Santa and then seeing the looks on the kids' faces when Santa arrived. It is also so much fun watching the kids visit Santa. It reminds me of how nervous I would be each year as a child when I would finally get to see him and tell him what I wanted. I'm so glad that we are able to provide children in our area with that exciting experience that they will remember for years to come.”

Whether it is children or the elderly, it is safe to say this ceremony brings people from all walks of life together to celebrate the joys of holiday season.

“My most favorite memory of the Lights On ceremony would have to be my first year of participating the event,” said Rappe. “Being asked to perform for one of the biggest community events for NSU was a tremendous honor. I knew that this event was more than just lighting up Seminary Hall. Again seeing how the the community, 1 to 92, interacted with all that was going on to all the hard work behind the scenes is an experience and memory that I will never forget.”

Sometimes, pictures with Santa can be costly. At the Lights On Seminary ceremony, families can line up to see Santa and take their own pictures for free. After the children hop off Santa’s lap, they are greeted by a team of Santa’s elves where they can pick out a stocking stuffer and a commemorative ornament to take home.

Matt Reif, Poteau junior, has had the honor to don the red suit and beard and collect all of the Christmas wishes.

“I felt so honored to be trusted to deliver all of the children’s Christmas wishes back to the big man,” said Reif. “A lot of times kids are shy and scared around the man in the big red suit, but with this event parents are encouraged to bring their personal cameras or phones to take the picture. It ends up making the kids open up a bit more and feel less shy. Seeing the excitement from each family that passed through was worth it all. ”

The Lights On Seminary Hall ceremony is a free event and is open to the public. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5 in front of the main entrance of Seminary Hall. The event will start with performances and holiday stories, then the lights will be lit and then event goers are invited inside Seminary Hall for a visit with Santa and a winter wonderland photo booth for family and friends.

For more information, email Pursley at

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