Tree Behind Old Chapel is Lit



The tree on the lawn in front of Mead Chapel was lit up for the first time this season on Monday night.


The tree on the main quad behind Old Chapel was lit up for the first time this season on Monday night.

Power was first brought out to the tree in 1984, and the lights have been strung each year since. “Jack Dapsis, our electrician, began decorating that particular tree, and he continues to do so to this day,” said Luther Tenny, assistant director of facility services.

The tree, a 45-foot Norway spruce, takes just over a day to decorate. “We have what we call our ‘man lift,’ a lift on wheels, that we drive out there and string the lights,” said Tenny.

The lights go up around Thanksgiving and are taken down in January or February.

“I always look forward to the lights going on the tree and it helps with the stress of finals, even if it’s just a little bit,” said Julia Hower ’19.

The candles in the windows of Old Chapel go up earlier. “That tradition started around 1998 after the renovation of Old Chapel. And those are LED bulbs in those, so those don’t use much for energy and last quite a long time,” said Tenny. The lights on the tree, however, are not LED. “At some point we’ll convert them over,” Tenny said.

Middlebury played an important role in the history of Christmas trees. In 1923, the college presented President Calvin Coolidge with a tree from his home state of Vermont to be the first national Christmas tree. The national tree stands on the Ellipse, next to the White House.

Although since replaced by other trees, the president has lit the national Christmas tree every winter since 1923 at a large ceremony called the national Christmas tree lighting.

At 48 feet tall, the first national Christmas tree resembled the tree on the quad.