Today@Sam Article

Original Tree Of Light Dedicated With Plaque

Dec. 2, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Crandall

Original Tree of Light with PlaqueMarking 100 years of the ‘Tree of Light’, Sam Houston State University dedicated the large evergreen cedar in the middle of the Evans Complex as ‘The Original Tree of Light’ in a ceremony Nov. 29. By doing so, the university recognized its significance in the oldest university tradition.

The dedication was done by President Alisa White, Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Parker, Student Government Association President LaYauna Bonds and Director of Student Activities Brandon Cooper. A plaque now stands in front of the tree explaining its importance to SHSU.

“To officially dedicate this tree, I think, is monumental,” said Steven Begnaud, assistant director of Student Activities. “We talk about university traditions and the historical importance of certain places and events on campus, and this one is no exception.”

From 1921 to 1965, the original tree was decorated for the inaugural tree lighting ceremony. In 1938, President Harry F. Estill recognized the original tree as a symbol of “unwavering courage in the face of discouragement and of cheerfulness that never frowns.”

“They tried to cut it down multiple times, and it was saved for reasons undocumented,” Begnaud said. “But it’s still there to this day.”

The event was moved to a large cedar tree in front of Old Main in 1966 for visibility purposes; and in 1980, the lighting ceremony was officially named the ‘Tree of Light’ and held where the Blatchley Bell Tower now stands. The official university tree is now a 42-foot artificial tree located in the middle of campus.

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