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Carroll Hall rings in Carroll Christmas

| Thursday, December 1, 2016

As Notre Dame students are beginning their last round of papers and exams, the residents of Carroll Hall are busy decking the halls and trimming the trees for Carroll Christmas. The dorm’s signature event starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, with the traditional Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

“We always begin by lighting a tree,” sophomore Carroll Christmas commissioner Matthew Valenti said. “Someone gives a speech about Carroll Christmas and Carroll Hall in general, and there’s a big countdown to lighting the tree that maintenance does for us. We do what we can for the front of the building ourselves.”

Valenti said this year’s event will feature the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony; performances from student music groups, including the Undertones; an hourlong set from Student Standups; and cookies, hot chocolate and prizes for “Reindeer Games” such as cornhole, putt-putt and a wreath toss.

As always, the freshmen of Carroll Hall will be playing the part of Santa and his elves, Valenti said.

“That’s the other big attraction,” he said. “We have a Santa and we have a Mrs. Clause — we always try to get the most bearded freshman to be Mrs. Clause, just to have a good time with that — and then there are elves running everything.

“It’s just a bunch of adults running around in elf costumes, which is a lot of fun. Some of them are small enough to where they look the part, and then others definitely do not.”

Over 900 people have RSVP’d to the Carroll Christmas Facebook event, with another 600 saying they were “interested.”

“Last year, 1,500 to 2,000 people cycled through the dorm,” Valenti said. “I think at one point there was over 1,000 [in the dorm] at once. We’ve started advertising earlier, and more people have heard about it. … Hopefully, we can get above 2,000. That’s the goal.”

Valenti said the entire dorm helps with decorating the hall just a few days before the event.

“We start the earliest we can,” he said. “We have Carroll Mass on Tuesday, then all the furniture gets moved into the chapel and we start staying up late decorating after that.

“You can’t beat just being up at 3 a.m., blaring Christmas music. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to get done, but, somehow, it always does.”

Carroll Christmas is free for all of its attendees.

“We don’t try to make any money off this,” Valenti said. “We have a big party, is basically what it is. We’re not doing it for anyone or anything. We have Lakeside, in the spring, that we do for the Boys and Girls Club, but for this, we just spend money so people can celebrate Christmas.”

Since Carroll Hall is located behind the lakes on the University campus, Valenti said Carroll Christmas is one of the only times of the year that other students come to the dorm.

“[Carroll Hall] is kind of like the North Pole, in a sense,” he said.”You can’t just wander into Carroll — it’s a deliberate attempt to go there. But people are willing to make the trek for this, and I think it’s definitely worth the extra five-minute walk past Lyons to come have a good time.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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