Written by Kevin Dunne.
It is officially Christmas time on the GC campus and despite the lack of snow, 65 degree days, and rain, the season is in full swing. Halls have been decked, Messiah concerts have been held, ABC Family’s 25 days of Christmas has begun, and trees have been set up. The Christmas spirit and decorations on campus bring that oh so special holiday cheer are positively bursting at every possible seam. Even though it may not look like winter and we have yet to receive our traditional “walk like a penguin” emails, some students decided to make the campus even more festive.
Last week, students walking through Claussen Plaza were able to admire the splendor of a hastily constructed Christmas tree made from benches. This glorious piece of art shone brighter than a beacon, emitting a glow of radiance and goodwill. Who erected this beautiful structure? Was it Santa’s helpers or some mysterious underground organization? As it turns out, the picnic table tree was brainchild of sophomores Austin Fredrich and Tyler Merrill. Fredrich, an Audio Engineering/Marketing major and Merrill, who is undecided, sat down to tell the grand tale of the rise and fall(s) of the great picnic table tree.
It all began after Thanksgiving Break and simply put, the two were bored. Merrill was working on a research paper (yes, some professors are cruel enough to assign homework over break) but was struggling. Like any good friend, Fredrich promised Merrill that if he worked on his paper for an hour, he would be rewarded with mischievery. The offer worked and soon the two were perusing around campus on an adventure. When they saw the lights on the bushes near the plaza, the idea of a monument entered their brains. Soon, they were scurrying across campus to relocate the tables outside the DC and the table tree was born. It was done quickly because they didn’t want to “risk their enrollment at GC” or receive an email that they would have to have a meeting with Norm Hall.
The tree quickly grew in size and decorations, as the two later added expertly wrapped presents and installed a radio to broadcast Christmas music on a constant basis when they were informed that their creation wasn’t lit well enough. As jovial as one may think this process was, it carried a certain danger to it. The two told an anecdote that when they were putting the top layer of lights on, they had to counterbalance themselves on the tables so that the entire tree wouldn’t collapse. Fredrich had finished placing the lights, but forgot to inform Merrill to step off, when the tables fell on top of him. Luckily, he was not injured and our appreciation of the tree can continue to grow knowing that lives were put at risk to create the masterpiece.
Much like the short-lived television series, Freaks and Geeks, all good things must come to an end, as was the case for the tree. The Office of Student Development, Res Life, and GCSA moved to return the benches and lights to their original locations and in its place, have an actual tree. On Thursday, the 6th, students helped decorate the new tree with ornaments and lights that didn’t come from bushes. Many students participated, including Merrill, who placed the final ornament on the tree, and were enthusiastic of the school’s interest to add more Christmas cheer.
Merrill and Fredrich wish that the new tree was bigger and made of bigger tables because that would have been cooler, but appreciate the replacement nonetheless. Both knew that their tree was merely temporary and wished to spark a new tradition in hopes that future generations of students will continue their work, so that when they visit GC as alums, they can tell stories of why there’s a tree in the middle of campus.
While it is unclear if such a tradition will take off, many students enjoyed the table tree, taking countless pictures and making Facebook statuses about it. Many hope that the tradition of the school placing and allowing students to decorate a tree continues at least, as it fosters community, which is what we’re all about. In the meantime, we can all remember the message the song brings us, which is that of beauty, splendor, and togetherness, which is what this season is all about.