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Singing Christmas Tree at Belhaven, 'Lighting the Way' at USM and MSU Holiday Open House

Today, the Singing Christmas Tree features a 35-foot-tall wooden and metal tree structure that holds up to 100 singers, including members of the Belhaven Concert Choir, alumni, faculty and staff. The singers now wear white robes with reflective collars and tiaras, in addition to holding lights. Photo courtesy Belhaven University

Today, the Singing Christmas Tree features a 35-foot-tall wooden and metal tree structure that holds up to 100 singers, including members of the Belhaven Concert Choir, alumni, faculty and staff. The singers now wear white robes with reflective collars and tiaras, in addition to holding lights. Photo courtesy Belhaven University Belhaven University

Belhaven University will host its 86th annual Singing Christmas Tree event on Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1. Both shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Belhaven University Bowl Stadium. The event is free and open to the public.

Mignonne Caldwell, a former Belhaven University music professor and choir director, began Singing Christmas Tree in 1933 as an informal musical gathering with an all-female choir singing in the shape of a Christmas tree. Caldwell directed Singing Christmas Tree until she retired in 1962. The current director is music professor Christopher Phillips.

Today, the Singing Christmas Tree features a 35-foot-tall wooden and metal tree structure that holds up to 100 singers, including members of the Belhaven Concert Choir, alumni, faculty and staff. The singers now wear white robes with reflective collars and tiaras, in addition to holding lights.

Each year, Belhaven holds auditions for a soloist who stands under the star at the top of the tree and performs "O Holy Night" near the end of the event. This year's soloist is Jordan Locke, a Jackson native and senior music major at Belhaven.

Belhaven University's chapter of student business organization Phi Beta Lambda will be selling hot cocoa and coffee for visitors at this year's event.

"One of the really great things about Singing Christmas Tree is that it's open to anyone, and you don't have to be a music major to participate," David Sprayberry, assistant director of university relations at Belhaven, told the Jackson Free Press. "You can be a student, a member of the faculty or staff, or even a visiting alum, and take part in the show. We have families that show up every year to make Singing Christmas Tree a part of their Christmas tradition."

To audition for Singing Christmas Tree, email Christopher Phillips at cphillips@belhaven.edu. Belhaven will send participants a schedule of rehearsals and performances, along with a commitment contract to sign. Rehearsals will be Nov. 26-27 and Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. in Belhaven's Center for the Arts Concert Hall. For more information, visit belhaven.edu.

'Lighting the Way for the Holidays' at USM

The University of Southern Mississippi Student Government Association will host its annual "Lighting the Way for the Holidays" event on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. on the front lawn of the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building.

The event will include refreshments, crafts, cookie decorating, caroling, a campus Christmas-tree lighting ceremony, photos with Santa Claus and more.

Proceeds from "Lighting the Way," including donations and sales of "The Giving Tree"-themed Christmas decorations, will support Leadership Pine Belt's "Shelter Hattiesburg" community service project, which will construct bus-stop shelters for Hattiesburg Public School District students traveling to school.

For more information, email event co-director Madeline Laurendine at madeline.laurendine@usm.edu or the USM Dean of Students Office at dos@usm.edu. For information about Shelter Hattiesburg, visit the project's Facebook page.

MSU Holiday Open House

Mississippi State University will host its annual holiday open house at the University Florist (100 Lee Blvd., Starkville), a flower shop located on campus, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16. The event will feature coffee, cookies and a door prize from Merigold, Miss.-based pottery shop McCarty's Pottery.

The open house will also feature Mississippi-made gift items for sale, including ceramic birds from Wolfe Fine Art Studio in Jackson, MSU-themed ornaments and holiday arrangements, and more.

The Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences operates the University Florist, which serves as a site for students majoring in horticulture to gain supervised practical experience in their field. MSU also offers retail training for students pursuing a degree in floral management. For more information, visit florist.msstate.edu.

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