To say Jay Youngblood enjoys decorating for the holidays may be the understatement of the year.
Christmas is the senior finance major’s favorite time of the year. His apartment has been decked out in red, green, silver, and gold since the first day of November. He loves sharing the joy of the season with his classmates.
As student director of student traditions, the Meridian native is responsible for one of the most popular Christmas traditions at Mississippi College: Lighting of the Quad.
The annual campus lighting event will usher in the yuletide season at MC at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the heart of the Clinton campus. The dark of a late fall evening will instantly give way to a cacophony of light and sound when thousands of holiday bulbs sparkle at once, and traditional Christmas music fills the air.
The scene is an unforgettable display of brilliant holiday magic for the MC faculty, staff, students, and residents of Clinton who have witnessed it.
“I have attended Lighting of the Quad every year as a student here at MC,” said Youngblood, who helped plan the event as a member of the LOTQ Committee during the last two years. “My experience is always a great one. It gives students the time to take a quick break from getting ready for finals and enjoy a fun-filled night under all the Christmas lights.
“Some of my favorite pictures of my friends and me have come from Lighting of the Quad. Hearing the Christmas music combined with all the Christmas lights – you can’t help but smile and have a good time.”
A reading of the Christmas story kicks off the festivities, followed by a countdown to the “grand illumination.” All at once, every light in the Quad blinks on, giving pilots in passing aircraft a pause.
Youngblood said the event is a tremendous hit for those who love posting to social media.
“For the most part, Lighting of the Quad is a big photo opportunity for students,” he said. There’s also plenty of free giveaways. “We will have two or three different crafts that students can do, along with free refreshments that everyone loves.”
New this year will be a giant inflatable snow globe that guests will be able to enter for pictures.
“We have talked about having this in the past, so I am super excited that we will experience it this year,” Youngblood said.
Jonathan Nutt, assistant dean of students in the Office of Student Engagement, said Youngblood and the rest of the LOTQ Committee have done a tremendous job planning this year’s event.
“This year’s Lighting of the Quad will be picture perfect, with lots of photo areas and opportunities for students to make memories with their friends,” Nutt said. “Traditions make the student experience at Mississippi College, and Lighting of the Quad is one of those things we have done for many years. It’s one of the many traditions that make MC so special.”
Youngblood and company began planning this year’s event in early September. A lighting company helps transform the Quad into a nighttime “winter wonderland,” but he said the most challenging part of organizing Lighting of the Quad is making sure all the lights work.
“We have thousands of lights and extension cords running everywhere,” he said. “Sometimes it feels that whenever you get one section of light working, another section stops. The Campus Operations staff are always helpful in making sure everything gets plugged in correctly without blowing any breakers in the power boxes.”
Whether decorating for a handful of friends at home or for hundreds of visitors to MC, Youngblood said hosting friends is a big part of what makes the Christmas season special.
“I love being able to decorate my campus that I call home and help everyone get into the Christmas spirit,” he said. “I look forward to seeing everyone smiling and having a good time. I want everyone who attends to have a great time and feel the Christmas spirit in the air. Seeing the finished product on the Quad is a reward; then they hit that switch, and all the lights come on. It makes all the planning well worth it.
“It has been an honor serving as director over Lighting of the Quad this year, and I am excited for everyone to see what we have come up with this year.”
Nutt said through the year, the best part of Lighting of the Quad has been sharing the joy of Christmas with the MC family.
“With all of our events, we want Lighting of the Quad to positively impact students’ experience at MC,” he said. “Students aren’t on campus on Christmas Day, so it’s a great way to have a little bit of Christmas while they’re still with us before the stress of exams hit.
“We’re very excited and cannot wait to Light the Quad again this year.”
Tickets are not necessary to attend the free event. For more information, click here.