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Campus decorated for holidays

Nicole McAlee | Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Notre Dame students returned from Thanksgiving break to find campus had been transformed for the swiftly-approaching holiday season.

Christmas trees popped up in the LaFortune Student Center, the Main Building and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, garland and a wreath adorn O’Shaughnessy Hall’s stained glass window and Christmas lights twinkled from shrubbery all over campus.

Efforts by the staffs of Landscape Services, the Utilities Department and the Office of Sustainability made these festive and environmentally-friendly decorations possible.

Superintendent of landscape services Patrick McCauslin and his staff are in charge of decorating outdoors.

“We generally take care of all the community lights on campus, all the lights around the Basilica [of the Sacred Heart], the lights on the tree in front of the Golden Dome on the south side, the lights on the University tree, the big spruce tree outside the Performing Arts Center, and the lights on Old College,” McCauslin said, whose department is also responsible for the maintenance of campus grounds excepting the athletic fields.

McCauslin estimated about 35,000 lights have been strung up on campus this year, which he noted didn’t happen over night.

“We typically start getting ready around early to mid-October,” he said. “Decoration is done well before Thanksgiving break, and we turn everything on Thanksgiving night.”

The frequent early snowfalls necessitate advanced preparation for Christmas, since McCauslin’s department is also responsible for snow and ice removal on campus.

Paul Kempf, senior director of utilities and maintenance and his staff manage decorations such as those in North and South Dining Halls and the Main Building.

Kempf said that his staff of ten was responsible for the indoor decorations, particularly for putting up and decorating the large Christmas tree in the Main Building, as well as a variety of decorations for other departments and dorms across campus. 

“In general, our entire staff of 10 maintenance technicians spends nearly a month prior to Christmas break setting up small decorations at the request of rectors and building managers,” Kempf said.

In addition to Landscape Services and the Utilities Department, the Office of Sustainability is offering ways to make decorating for Christmas on campus more energy-conscious and environmentally friendly.

“Our interest is trying to make [Christmas decoration] more sustainable, so we offer programs where we can exchange standard lights for LED lights,” Linda Kurtos, director of sustainability for the University, said.

“The first project we did was in December of 2009, and Dillon Hall approached us because they have a huge light show. … That really adds up to a lot of energy, so they asked us if we could help them convert to LEDs,” Rachel Novick, Education and Outreach program manager for the Office of Sustainability, said.

Novick said that the Office of Sustainability has recently tried to expand their services around the holiday time to all the residence halls on campus at the behest of dormitory sustainability commissioners.

“We hosted an exchange in which they could bring in light strands from their dorms and we would exchange them,” Novick said. “So we exchanged about 40 light strands last year and we’re planning to offer that again this coming week.”