Festival of Trees brings holiday spirit to campus

USC students enjoyed a night of holiday spirit, free food and musical performances in Alumni Park at the Undergraduate Student Government’s Festival of Trees on Monday evening. The event featured the lighting of 15 miniature Douglas Fir trees that represented different organizations within USG.

Organizers hoped to provide a space to celebrate the holidays and help alleviate the stress that many students face with the onset of finals. Kathryn Kelly, USG director of marketing, created the event after getting the idea from student exchange with Utah State University.

“We have a bunch of student organizations decorating the trees so it represents their organization, their mission and basically how they’re involved on campus,” Kelly said. “We have a lot of fun things to hopefully give students a break on finals week.”   

The organizations represented included the Environmental Student Assembly, Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, Latina/o Student Assembly, QuASA, Concerts Committee, Black Student Assembly, Residential Student Government, Office of Religious Life, Graduate Student Government, USC Helenes, Undergraduate Student Government and Troy Camp.     

Cindy Pineda, the executive director of the Latina/o Student Assembly, said that it was important that their culture was represented in the Festival of Trees.

“We want to make a presence here and ensure that we do have a community,” Pineda said as she and her assistant director decorated their trees with traditional poinsettia flowers and gold ribbons. “Within our community and assembly, we are able to show some of our culture.”

The Office of Religious Life reached out to the USC Interfaith Council so that they would be more representative of all religions. Their tree included references to the major religions at USC on paper chains.

Marla Ross, a sophomore majoring in cognitive science who helped decorate the Troy Camp tree, was excited about the holiday spirit.

“It’s very festive, especially for people who don’t go home for the holidays, and I’m glad that we get to have a tree, because it’s an organization that means a lot to us,” Ross said. 

Students who attended the event could participate in numerous activities including a bounce house, do-it-yourself crafts, cookie decorating, a photo booth and a screening of Elf. They also lined up for free holiday mugs, sprinkles cupcakes and hot chocolate.

Senior Advisor of the USG Executive Board Riyana Chakraborty, a senior majoring in international relations and global business, said that this was one of the best USG events she’s been to.

“I think this event is one of USG’s finest, to be quite honest, and I’ve attended a lot of events hosted by USG,” Riana said. “I think it’s really special that they’re incorporating the holiday spirit.”

Many attendees agreed that the event accurately portrayed the holiday spirit, including freshman neuroscience major Dominic Mogue.

“This event has been great. It’s so festive. I’m having so much fun,” Mogue said. “The highlight was definitely hearing ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You,’ because that’s my favorite Christmas song.”

A group of three freshman architecture students all enjoyed different aspects of the Festival of Trees and were glad they were able to come together.

“I really like the Christmas trees because they are beautiful and magical,” Virginia Leopard said. “I liked that they were real because they smelled really good.” She also enjoyed the bounce house, free food and Christmas music.

Mary Perez, the second of the three, loved the bounce house because “[She] was with [her] two best friends,” she said, much to the celebration of the other two. But Charlene Ko thought waiting in line was the highlight of the event.

“Even though we had to wait, it was fun, because we were waiting with friends,” Ko said.

Erin McCeormick, a master’s student in social work, appreciated one tree in particular.

“I think my favorite is the one with the Chinese lanterns and the snowflakes on it,” McCeormick said, even though she missed most of the event. “If I had the chance I would go to every part of this event next year.”

Students can stop by on their way to class to see the trees, which will be on display until Dec. 2.