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"Holiday Wonderland" unites students with children's club

By Michaela Papa, Columnist


I, presumably like many other upperclassmen, always thought the small village constructed in the back of the Student Center before winter break to be something from the elusive Hofstra Elves. Apparently, I was slightly off in thinking this. Hofstra's Sinterklaas was an event that various student organizations and Greek life participated in. Two or three organizations would get together and build a structure to be part of a village in which kids from the Boys and Girls Club would later play.  

Last year Hofstra's Sinterklaas was adapted into "Holiday Wonderland."  The window decorating and the Children's Outreach Project comprise this "Holiday Wonderland," along with the beloved and much anticipated holiday lighting ceremony.  This year was the 28th annual lighting ceremony.  Up until last year, they used a tree from near the Hempstead Turnpike, though due to a large storm about two years ago the tree fell down. Hofstra then decided that the event would be more inclusive as opposed to tree lighting.

In any event, with the eradication of Hofstra's Sinterklaas to the more manageable and all-encompassing "Holiday Wonderland," Hofstra adapted the guidelines. This year, the theme was classic Disney movies.  On November 16, student groups picked a Disney movie of their choice. The groups then blindly selected a holiday out of a hat, as to fairly represent all of the holidays that fall around this time of year. 

Nine groups are participating this year, two more than last year.  The groups are to illustrate the characters of their chosen Disney movie celebrating their selected holiday.

While I think it's wonderful that Hofstra is being so culturally sensitive, I find it slightly funny to picture The Little Mermaid lighting a menorah under the sea…but maybe that's just me and my close mindedness.  Go, Hofstra.  Such Pride. 

There are rules for the decorating/building, though they are mostly common sense and courtesy guidelines such as where to rinse out paintbrushes and a ban on stepping on furniture.  OSLA supplies the tempera paint, cardboard or styrofoam is to be used with a disallowance of wood or drywall.  Other than that, the event is a chance for organizations and Greek life to prove they're not just great with glitter around Homecoming time, but year round they are ready and able to draw disturbingly accurate cartoon characters.

On the Monday before finals week the groups do various crafts with the Boys and Girls Club.  There are usually about 40 kids attending these events.  According to Ashley E. Gray, Assistant Director of Student Leadership & Activities, the kids "have a lot of fun going from table to table making everything from door knob hangers to decorating cookies." It's a great tradition Hofstra is a part of. The Boys and Girl's club have been attending our holiday event for three or four years now, and the Saratoga Inn Homeless Shelter is on its second year of attendance. 

While Holiday Wonderland is overall more receptive, I yearn for the days of the enigmatic Hofstra elf homes in the Student Center. But since the money goes to various service projects  and includes a plethora of crafts, it's an all around great event.  

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