Lighting O' the Grove rescheduled to December 18
Mary Virginia Swain '77C

The 38th annual Lighting O' the Grove has been rescheduled to Tuesday, December 18, due to winter weather on its original date. The service of Lessons and Carols starts Tuesday evening at 5:30, sharp, in the Chapel. The Lighting O' the Grove will be held in front of Smedes/The Grove at 6:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7:15 p.m. The Beacon Christmas Party, featuring the Echo washtub band Christmas show, will take place in Smedes-Emory Parlor at 8 p.m. The Christmas Tea is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Please note the changes in the usual order of events.

The Lighting O' the Grove features caroling, special Christmas music, the lighting and dedication of the Christmas tree, refreshments, the dedication of memorial luminaries, and more. More than 600 luminaries, placed and lit by the Granddaughters Club members, will illuminate the historic front campus on Hillsborough Street, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Special lighting of the stately oaks will create an enchanted Grove.

The Lighting O' the Grove is free and open to all, but everyone is encouraged and asked to bring at least one canned good item for our food drive to be donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to help our neighbors in need. With everyone's contributions, we hope to have a significant collection this year to boost the supplies at the Food Bank during the holidays.

The annual Festival of Lessons and Carols begins at 5:30 p.m., sharp, in the historic Saint Mary's Chapel. Doors open at 5:15. We ask that guests be seated in the Chapel no later than 5:30, as it will be standing room only, and the opening and closing of the Chapel door and trying to find space for latecomers creates a noticeable distraction during the music and readings. The Chorale and guest musicians, including Saint Mary's students, have a beautiful musical program planned, interspersed with the reading of the traditional Christmas lessons.

Schedule of Events

  • 4:30 p.m. Christmas Tea in Smedes-Emory Parlor (This is a reservation-only event.)
  • 5:30 p.m. Lessons and Carols in the Chapel
  • 6:30 p.m. Lighting O' the Grove
  • 7:15 p.m. Christmas Community Dinner in the Dining Hall
  • 8 p.m. Beacon Christmas Party featuring Christmas music performed by the Echo senior washtub band in Smedes Hall.

History of The Lighting O' the Grove

The Lighting O' the Green was first held in 1981 as a gift from Saint Mary's to the Raleigh community. The event was founded by the 1981-1982 Student Government Association (SGA) officers and the late Henry Read, Saint Mary's director of development from 1977-1996. The event was first held in front of the Chapel, and a living campus tree was lit. In 1987, the event was relocated to the front of Smedes Hall and, in 1988, renamed The Lighting O' the Grove. This annual holiday celebration has become one of the school's most beloved traditions and is sponsored each year by the SGA.

The Luminaries at the Lighting O' the Grove

The candles placed by the Granddaughters Club around the circle drive represent each current student and member of the faculty and staff of Saint Mary's School. The lone candle in the center of the circle represents all Saint Mary's alumnae.

Special memorial candles are dedicated this year in memory of:

Elizabeth Arthur Bell '55C, former Alumnae Council member;

Frankie Strosnider DuBose '50C, former trustee, former Alumnae Council member, Mazie Strickland Froelich Distinguished Alumna Award recipient;

Olivia Lynch Hardin '50C, former trustee;

Stephanie Shannon Mannen '84HS '85C, former Alumnae Council member;

Bet Pou McClamroch '45HS, Heritage Society member;

Tom McGuire, former trustee;

Luke Hill Page '50C, former Alumnae Association president, former trustee;

Nancy Dawson Rascoe Stevenson '52C, former Alumnae Council member, Mazie Strickland Froelich Distinguished Alumna Award recipient;

Martha Sprouse Stoops, professor emerita of history, school historian, author of The Heritage, the History of Saint Mary's 1842-1982;

Rose Wallace Tucker '45HS '47C, Heritage Society member;

Margaret Click Williams, professor emerita of art;

and all Saint Mary's alumnae and friends who have died during the past year.