‘The single most joyful event of the semester’: Carroll Hall celebrates A Carroll Christmas
Aidan O'Malley | Friday, December 3, 2021
This Saturday, Carroll Hall will host its signature holiday event, A Carroll Christmas, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Started in 1998 as a replacement for the Carroll Haunted House, A Carroll Christmas takes its name from the classic Charles Dickens novel, “A Christmas Carol.”
“It just came about because, as our name suggests, it might be a natural fit,” said junior Will Forsen, president of Carroll Hall. “We kind of switched up the order there.”
2020 switched up the order, too. Due to the adjusted academic calendar of the fall semester, residence halls closed before Thanksgiving — leaving no time for A Carroll Christmas.
“It was not wholly unexpected,” Forsen said. “If we weren’t allowed to have dances, there’s no way we were going to be allowed to have Carroll Christmas.”
That’s because the event tends to draw large crowds.
“Freshman year, we probably got around 800 people,” Forsen said. This year, he estimated there will be a few hundred.
“It should be a good year after a brief hiatus,” Forsen said. “Looking to not rebuild, but just keep building off the momentum we had.”
Junior Vaibhav Arora, the main commissioner for A Carroll Christmas, said the event, which is free to attend, begins well before guests arrive on the west end of St. Mary’s Lake.
“We have a horse carriage which brings you to the door of Carroll all the way from either the Grotto or the start of the lake,” Arora said. “So for everyone complaining that Carroll is too far, you can’t use that as an excuse anymore.”
The festivities will continue inside Carroll itself, where visitors can sing karaoke, decorate sugar cookies and sip hot chocolate. Guests can also take pictures with first-year Carroll residents dressed as Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves.
“We have a great group of freshmen,” Forsen said. “Thirty-nine really involved guys. I’ve already heard them arguing amongst themselves which one wants to be Santa.”
Arora also teased that for the first time ever, the event might include an escape room.
“You could hypothetically be locked in a room by the Grinch and you have to find your way out,” Arora said.
Another new addition is Carroll Christmas sweaters that were designed by Arora and will be available for purchase.
The evening will end with the lighting of a 40-foot Christmas tree on the Carroll Lawn. Rector Eric Styles will lead guests in prayer before a first-year resident delivers a speech reflecting on the Carroll community.
“We are known to be the closest dorm on campus,” Arora said. With an approximate capacity of 102 students, Carroll Hall is certainly the smallest.
“And that’s portrayed through the words of the freshman himself, who outlines his experience through the first few months of college and how the community really helped him build himself,” Arora said.
The tree is accompanied by a large “C” — made of Christmas lights — that hangs from the front of the building.
“It definitely brings in the Christmas spirit,” Arora said. “It’s a really great start to the month of December.”
But Arora also emphasized the role of A Carroll Christmas in the greater campus community.
“It gives us an opportunity to show people that Carroll is a dorm on campus,” Arora said. “We just want people to actually come in and see what living in Carroll is like. We are a community and we have our own traditions, and we just want to share that.”
Forsen also reflected on what the event means to Vermin — the affectionate name for the men of Carroll Hall.
“When we light that Christmas tree you take a step away from the party for a second and look around and see the people you know and the people you want to know,” Forsen said. ”And just kind of thinking, ‘How grateful am I that I’m here?’”
“A Carroll Christmas is the single most joyful event of the semester,” Forsen said.