DIB’s poses for a group photo with a handful of students. (Kiersten Riedford)
DIB’s poses for a group photo with a handful of students.

Kiersten Riedford

Ugly Sweater Party returns to campus for sixth annual tree lighting

November 16, 2022

The first group of people piled in line for the Ugly Sweater Party on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 11:15 a.m.

The event did not start until 2 p.m., but that didn’t stop students from sitting in a line going from the quad to the front gate of the quad then wrapping back on the sidewalk all around the SAC to Kenmore Ave. By the time 2 p.m. rolled around, the line was at the front of the Richardson Library but on the Kenmore side, not the quad. 

DePaul mascot, Dibs, enjoys a ride with a student at the ugly sweater party on 11/9. (Kiersten Riedford)

Only 1,250 sweaters were passed out. This year, the design was a dark blue with white text, the same design as last year but different colors. 

Students like senior Julianna De Leon waited in line since 12:30 p.m. She said she was waiting so she could get the final sweater in her collection of DePaul ugly sweaters. 

“I was in class on Zoom waiting in the line,” De Leon said. “And I had a one on one meeting over zoom on the phone and ate. So I’ve been doing everything in this line waiting since 12:30p.m. I think [the people at the front of the line have] been waiting since like 11:15 in the morning. So that stands that sets the standards.”

While De Leon was able to do her work in the quad while she waited, many students skipped their classes or even left classes early so they could get a sweater. Some professors ended classes early so students could get in line.

Student Government president Kevin Holechko snaps a selfie with Dibs. (Kiersten Riedford)

Once students finally got their hands on a sweater, they were sent into a winter wonderland hosted by the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) in the quad. There was an inflatable snow globe, mini donuts, inflatable races and obstacle courses, holiday stuff-a-plush tables, tables for writing letters to children in local hospitals, s’mores and Christmas music blasting so loud you could hear it by McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

At 4 p.m. students lined up yet again but this time at the entrance of the Vinny Circle in the quad. The first 750 students to attend the tree lighting ceremony in the Vinny Circle were given a DePaul scarf, which matched the design of the beanie that was handed out last year. 

As 4:30 p.m. rolled around and to kick off the ceremony, Dibs and the DePaul University Dance Team ran onto the stage and performed. Robbyn Simone, a sophomore in The Theatre School, Kevin Holechko, Student Government Association president and senior and DePaul President Robert L. Manuel all spoke at the event. They shared stories of their family traditions around the holidays, gave blessings to people and their families and even discussed the meaning of the tree lighting. 

A statue of Saint Vincent DePaul was decorated to reflect the festive atmosphere of the event. (Kiersten Riedford)

Manuel said the tree in the Vinny Circle is turned on before students depart for winter break and will be on when they come back to campus so they know they are home. 

Future of the Ugly Sweater Party

While the event is fun for students and many are willing to take the chance to get anything free from DePaul, students like freshman Peyton Luedtke do think there are two sides to the coin. 

“On the bright side [this event is] a good opportunity for everyone to celebrate,” Luedtke said. “But on the downside it’s like people who don’t celebrate Christmas don’t get as much recognition for their holidays.”

Luedtke and freshman Zoe Holm agreed that an event geared towards learning about other faiths would be representative. Luedtke even suggested having a holiday fair so anyone of any faith could be represented.

Student’s express excitement after picking up their ugly sweaters, which were given to only the first 1250 attendees. (Quentin Blais)

“I think it’d be a really good idea to start posting bigger events for other faiths,” freshman MJ Fitzpatrick said. “Because it’s not only there for them, it’s also for other people to come and learn about their faith. You don’t have to believe in that faith to learn about it and attend events about it.”

Junior Meral Fidai said there is already opportunity for these events to be a thing because student organizations of different heritages and faiths continuously host these events but on a smaller scale every year.

“So if you go in the [Student Center], there’s like a little TV and they have all the events that different clubs are doing,” Fidai said. “So, specifically for the South Asian holidays and clubs, they put them up on the board, but they don’t actually advertise them to anyone else but the people in the club. So I think if we started advertising them for the general body, it would be a lot better.”

To promote interfaith and more representation regarding faiths aside from Catholicism, De Leon said OSI should consider making different designs for the ugly sweater every year.

This years event marked the 4th annual Ugly Sweater Party, inviting students to momentarily forget about their exams and embrace the holiday spirit. (Kiersten Riedford)

“I think it would be really cool to have different student organizations, offices and students, but like their type of input on what the free ugly sweater is going to be so that we can all feel represented,” De Leon said. “Or maybe just change up the theme every year. So instead of it being like a free, ugly sweater, a free holiday sweater or a free different type of sweater so that we can kind of experiment with different designs and different inputs and different ways to represent.”

For students, faculty and staff who did not get the opportunity to get a sweater on the day of the Ugly Sweater Party, DePaul is currently hosting a fundraiser where people can buy a sweater for $35 and the money will go towards the Basic Needs Hub. The fundraiser is open until Nov. 16.

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