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Christmas Spirit on Full Display at Alumni Winter Carnival

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snow covered the ground and fireworks filled the air as alumni, friends and families celebrated the Christmas season at Alumni Winter Carnival!

For the first time in its history, photos with Santa and children’s activites were held indoors in Taffner Field House, allowing guests to escape from the cold as they enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies.

“I’m amazed at the University’s commitment to families,” said Rachid Murad ’94SVC, whose three young kids were excited to meet Santa. “Campus has changed a lot since I graduated, so it’s always fun to come back, show our children and get in the Christmas spirit.”

His wife, Ianthe Dunn-Murad ’95C, ’97G, agreed, noting that the family atmosphere on campus is what truly makes St. John’s so special.

“Rachid and I met here, so this place means a lot to us,” she explained. “My kids look forward to the event every year, and between this and the Alumni Great Lawn Party in the spring, we just love coming back.”

As part of the festivities, alumni filed into The Little Theater for the red-carpet reveal of a student music video – The 12 Days of Christmas – which hysterically parodied the classic holiday song, highlighting why alumni support is so essential.

Additionally, guests were able to watch a Men’s Basketball open practice and meet Head Coach Steve Lavin and Red Storm players. Author Chris Grabenstein, meanwhile, was signing copies of his recent book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

“Everything about this event has been great,” said Julie Fiorello ’02L. “I really missed being here, and with so much to do today, it’s especially cool. My son already told me and my friend that he wants to go here one day, too!”

Alumni had the chance to attend Mass at St. Thomas More Church, followed by a Christmas tree lighting and fireworks display on the Great Lawn. For alumni like Joanna Smykowski ’12CPS, this yearly tradition remains one of her favorite events of the season.

“I absolutely loved this event when I was an undergraduate just a few years ago,” she said. “Fireworks in the winter are pretty unique, so it always gets me in the holiday spirit. I’m glad my schedule allowed me to be here and I definitely hope to be back next year!”