Southern Lights brings holiday cheer, caroling, cocoa to the Oval

Missouri Southern employee Sue Dean poses with grandchildren Allie Brady, Brendan Dean and Logan Dean At Southern Lights on Dec. 2.

Shane Spears

Missouri Southern employee Sue Dean poses with grandchildren Allie Brady, Brendan Dean and Logan Dean At Southern Lights on Dec. 2.

Amye Buckley

A little bit of the holiday season lit up the Oval on Dec. 2.

It was the second year for Southern Lights with caroling and a ceremonial tree lighting on Missouri Southern’s grounds. Faculty, staff and students joined in celebrating the season.

“It’s a little cold,” said Mykelnn Youngblood, freshman undecided major.

Students shivered a little as they snacked on cookies and hot cider, then lined up for carriage rides or decorated ornaments for the holiday tree.

Circling her clear globe with Christmas trees sketched in gold pen, Youngblood said she was decorating a few extra ornaments for friends studying in the library nearby.

This year’s event was the second in what organizers plan to be an annual tradition.

“I’m a junior and this is my first year coming to it,” said Jessie Wood, junior public relations major.

After coming this year, Wood said she wished she could have attended last year’s event.

“It’s something that makes you feel like a kid again and get all excited for Christmas,” she said.

“Every year we are hoping to make it bigger and better,” said Natalie Bruce, mental health counselor with Advising Counseling and Testing Services

This year, when they flipped the switch it lit more than the colorful central tree, extending the display with several trees decked in white lights.

“I definitely think the finale – the lighting of the tree – is a favorite but also the horse drawn sleigh rides,” Bruce said.

She said the event is meant as a draw not only for students, but their families.

Autumn Copher, freshman undecided major, brought her 2-year-old son, Zakkery Gilbert, out to see the lights and for a visit with the horses.