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Village Lights lifts spirits in Gambier with holiday cheer

Village Lights lifts spirits in Gambier with holiday cheer

COURTESY OF BRITTANY LIN

On Sunday evening, the village of Gambier held the first annual Village Lights event on Gaskin Avenue in front of the bookstore. The street was closed off and illuminated with strings of incandescent lights, with the parking spaces lined with small businesses, artisans and food trucks. As attendees browsed and sipped free hot chocolate and cider, the Mount Vernon High School Choir sang Christmas carols. A small stand selling homemade wreaths stood in front of the bookstore, which offered 20% off everything except textbooks and records to celebrate the event.

According to an email from the Kenyon Office for Community Partnerships, this year’s Village Lights event was the first of what is planned to be an annual celebration. The inspiration goes back to 40 years ago, when three Kenyon students would hang Christmas lights in all the trees down Middle Path in celebration of the winter solstice. 

The event drew large crowds consisting of both students and local families. The ornament-crafting station and the Woolson Kettle Corn stand were both popular with local kids. Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies Royal Rhodes gave away copies of his collection of poetry books to Kenyon students and encouraged them to offer small donations to a local food bank in return. The food trucks, Truckin’ Trav and Happy Owl Mobile Bakery, were active most the night and were especially popular with attendees. 

Students particularly appreciated the chance to escape the end-of-semester stress and enjoy the holiday season. “It was really cold when I went, so I spent a lot of my time standing in line for hot chocolate,” Mihika Topiwala ’27 said. “I did get to take a look at a lot of different booths, though, and I saw some cool art, got a free poetry book … Overall, the lights and booths were very cute, and it was nice to walk around until my fingers started freezing, so I’d like to see it again in the future.”  

Another student, Caeley Shea ’27, voiced her enthusiasm for the atmosphere created by the decorations. “It warmed my heart having all those lights out around Christmas time. Not in a cheesy way, it just warmed my heart,” she said.

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