Let there be light
by Andrew Shurtleff
of students, staff and faculty gathered Dec. 5 for the Universitys
first-ever Lighting of the Lawn, initiated by the Class of 2002
in what is hoped to become an annual tradition.
electrician Ralph Himelrick is retiring with a splash, or maybe
last big project, the first-ever Lighting of the Lawn, consisted
of stringing 21,600 white light bulbs attached to about two miles
of wire around and along the pavilion columns and the top railing
of the balconies and balustrades, as well as outlining the pillars
at the Rotunda.
Class President Portman Wills (right) honors U.Va. electrician
lights were turned on Dec. 5 in an event that included tours of
pavilions for students and community members, a performance by the
Virginia Gentlemen, and basketball coach Pete Gillen reading a student-written
poem about an epic clash between the Grinch and the Cavalier.
Wills, president of the Class of 2002, introduced Himelrick to the
crowd, which responded with cheers and sustained applause.
was so pleased with all the work and with the crowds reaction
to Ralph, Wills said the next day. I saw Ralph this
morning and he was still teary-eyed.
estimated the crowd at between 5,000 and 6,000, and said he was
happy with the mix of students and local people.
67, has worked for the University for 131û2 years, coming here as
a union electrician after working a variety of construction jobs
in Maryland and Virginia.
never had a better job, he said. I am so proud to be
here. Anyone who has had a job in the real world knows this place
is paradise. I leave with a lot of feelings.
said while he supervised the crew putting up the lights, he avoided
going over in the evenings when they would test them, so he would
see them for the first time the night they were turned on for the
public. Himelricks crew, primarily Wayne Russell and Shawn
Wells, spent two weeks stringing lights on the Lawn.
project ballooned in the past two to three weeks, starting out as
a small event for fourth-year students that expanded to include
the entire University community. Full story.