November 1, 2020 (Jackson, Miss.) - Belhaven University has canceled this year's performance of the Belhaven University Singing Christmas Tree. The decision was made as a continued effort to keep students safe and adhere to state and federal guidelines, regarding COVID-19.
The University's decision to cancel the event was a difficult one according to Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott. Many families have made this special event a tradition and look forward to it every year. We considered every possible option, but in the end, it was clear that the safety of our students and the surrounding community would be at risk no matter the solution. The safety of our students and their families, is without question, our top priority. said Dr. Parrott.
Mirroring the pattern of higher education this fall, traditional students will not be returning to campus after Thanksgiving. This limitation made it impossible to produce the musical tradition the first weekend of December.
Vice President for University Enrollment and Marketing Dr. Kevin Russell said, The Belhaven University Singing Christmas Tree is an event that we love giving to the community. Canceling this year's singing Christmas tree is a disappointment for many, especially us, but we are excited about the prospects of a new year and new possibilities. We are hopeful that next year's performance will be possible and we look forward to picking up where we left-off.
Belhaven's Singing Christmas Tree is a rich Belhaven tradition, enjoyed by more than a thousand people each year. This annual event, started in 1933, is considered to be the world's first and oldest outdoor singing Christmas tree tradition.
The singing Christmas tree began as an informal gathering for faculty and students to come watch Belhaven music professor Mignonne Caldwell's choir sing in the formation of a Christmas tree. Realizing that members of the community would enjoy witnessing this event, Caldwell moved the concert outside, between Preston and Fitzhugh Halls. The first wooden tree frame for the choir was constructed by Mr. C. V. McLain, an engineer. Thus, the outdoor singing Christmas tree tradition was born.
Since its creation, the tree frame has grown taller, candles were exchanged for LED lights, voices and music were amplified and more singers were added each year. Today, the wood and metal structure holds over 100 men and women. The lights change colors in various patterns and sequences according to the character of each Christmas carol, creating a visual spectacle for listeners. Performances are always free and scheduled for the first weekend of December in the Belhaven Bowl Stadium.