From humble roots came the yearly holiday tradition known as Community Christmas. Seven years ago, High Point University first hosted the event to fellowship with neighbors and invite them for a stroll down the Kester International Promenade. A few hundred people came and enjoyed hot chocolate, lights and Christmas music.
Each year since, it it has grown to became known as the premier Christmas celebration in the city and even the Piedmont Triad. Complete with complimentary photos with Santa Claus and a gift for the children, falling snow, food, carolers and community choirs, elves, a petting zoo, Polar Express train rides and more, it’s an event that puts thousands who live in the Triad – and many more who drive from out of town to attend – into the Christmas spirit.
This year’s free event will be held Dec. 14 and Dec. 15 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Here are five things you can look forward to Community Christmas at HPU:
1. Communion & Life-size Nativity
New this year, each night there will be a communion service in Hayworth Chapel. Please join us from 5:45 p.m. – 6 p.m. each night
Visitors often remark that their favorite campus holiday decoration is the life-size Nativity scene, complete with 23 Nativity figurines and a photo station. The Nativity scene figurines were donated by Mark Phillips, founder and president of Phillips Collection in High Point.
The Nativity scene is on view at the intersection of University Avenue and Panther Drive, between Norton Hall and the Plato S. Wilson School of Commerce.
2. Photos with Santa
Children who visit Santa Claus in the Slane Center will have their photo taken with him to be printed for free on the spot. They will also receive a gift from Santa.
After their visit with Saint Nick, families can enjoy a new attraction this year: Santa’s Stable petting zoo on the outdoor basketball courts at Slane.
3. Polar Express train rides
For the second year in a row, four Polar Express trains will shuttle visitors from Hayworth Fine Arts Center and around the Roberts Hall Lawn through flurries of falling snow. Children and families can sing along to Christmas music that’s piped in through the train’s speakers in transit. The Polar Express trains are an easy way to travel throughout campus and provide another opportunity to spend time with family and friends.
4. Complimentary food
Visitors can take a break in the Millis Athletic and Convocation Center while they enjoy hot dogs and chips from the Holly Jolly Hot Dog Shoppe. Hot cocoa and coffee are also available at various stations throughout campus.
5. Holiday sights and sounds
Some of the most well-known Community Christmas traditions are twinkling lights and Christmas music. In addition to falling snow, HPU’s Campus Enhancement team transforms campus into a Winter Wonderland. This year, campus is decked in:
- 93,000 lights
- 12,440 feet of garland
- 173 wreaths
- 648 banners
- 460 bows
- 130 nutcrackers and soldiers
- 23 nativity scene figures
- 300 poinsettias
- 12 Christmas trees
Local children will learn STEM concepts at the Crafty Elf Lego Workshoppe, while “Sounds of the Season” will further help visitors get in the Christmas spirit as they listen to performances by local musicians and choirs.