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Residents, CPC members spread holiday cheer in residence halls

Rachel Kubik

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Photo by Photo by Rachel Kubik

The Residence Hall Association has purchased a live tree for every building, including apartments, for each year until now. This year, artificial trees have been installed and decorated in each hall with Community Programming Council or residence hall staff help. This will allow RHA to reuse the trees year after year with an easy set-up.

Mashuda Hall’s theme this year, “Ohana Means Family,” includes a tree decorated with a Hawaiian theme. A festive banner spreads across the threshold of the entrance to the main desk and elevators.  Zachary Staszewski, Mashuda Hall Director, said that the goal of the decorations is to make the hall “a nice, cozy, holiday-festive environment for residents.”

“(The tree) is fun that it’s not just a traditional decoration,” Staszewski said. “It goes beyond a Christmas tree to just becoming a little bit different than a lot of our students would be able to identify with.”

Staszewski said that the theme was going to be either under-the-water, Hawaiian or beach until a student quoted Lilo & Stitch. Mashuda has won Best Tree Decoration for the past two years since Staszewski has worked there, so he said he feels the pressure to live up to the hall’s high standards of decor success.

Mashuda holds a door-decorating contest for its residents. The CPC social committee judged the doors Dec. 8 and will award a prize in the spring semester to the wing with the most doors decorated. They also award the top three most creative doors with a prize. A holiday social took place for the Mashuda CPC, with “holiday crafts, cookie decorating, gingerbread house building, festive music and whatever Christmas movie (was) on that night,” Staszewski said.

Humphrey Hall decorated its tree with a Harry Potter theme. Complete with a black pointed hat on top and nine-and-three-quarters ornaments, the tree is a feast for any Potter fan’s eyes.

The flood that occurred earlier this semester in Schroeder Hall inspired its tree theme. PVC pipes and blue “water” made from tissue paper adorn this tree, with a Schroeder cardboard box model on top and life jackets sitting underneath the tree. Nick Psarros, a Schroeder desk receptionist and sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences said that the residents love it.

“People come by and say, ‘oh that’s so funny,’ or, ‘oh that’s great,” Psarros said. “It shows how we’ve come full circle as a community from the event that has happened in the past.”

Straz Tower’s theme it “Positivi-Tree” and has numerous paper ornaments with positive messages written by residents. Observers of the tree can find hope, inspiration and even a bit of humor with the help of this tree. Messages say phrases such as “You are doing so well,” “Let the Christmas cheer lift your spirits this season,” “Finals should fear you” and “If Internet Explorer has the bravery to ask to be your default browser, you can talk to your professors.”

The committee that lights up the tree outside of the AMU, Igniting Hope, visited all the residence halls Dec. 4 to judge the trees. The hall with the highest score for creativity and quality of the decorations will get a hot chocolate and cookie treat for the first meeting of the spring semester.

In addition, some of the floors in Straz have been having an unofficial battle to see which floor has the best holiday decorations. The upper-level honors floors have been putting up Christmas lights and trees. The 16th floor has gone through the large project of transforming the floor lounge into a gingerbread house and winter wonderland.

Hannah Busch, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, is a Straz Tower resident on the 16th floor and one of the main decorators.

Basing the idea off the gingerbread town from “Barbie and the Nutcracker,” Busch said she wanted a unique Christmas theme.

Large green paper Christmas trees fill the walls, complete with paper lights. Dozens of paper snowflakes drape from the ceiling tiles as well.

“We thought we could do (a) winter wonderland, and you walk in, and there’s a house to go into,” Busch said. “Then there’s more down the halls.”

Busch estimated that it took at least five hours just to hang up the inside brown paper for the gingerbread house.

“It took longer to hang up the (gingerbread) walls (on the outside),” Busch said. She feels like she spent too much time on it but is satisfied with the end result.

“Everybody likes to hang out in the lounge now, because it’s private,” she said. “It’s like a hideout because you have to actually come in to see who’s in there.”

 

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