Dec. 14, 2001-Jan. 10, 2002
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‘Let there be light’
Casteen assesses state budget
Executives talk about the heart of leadership
Nurses convene congress to strengthen their voice

African-American Affairs office has charted successful, 25-year course

Building community: Peer advisors offer support
Take our Advice ... Tips for office security over the holidays
No quick fix for Virginia
Tuition assistance and reimbursement requests due soon
New Faces -- Top posts to be filled at U.Va.-Wise
Jan. 4 forum: Ask your local legislators
IATH proposals due Jan. 30
Gone but not forgotten
Happy holidays from ’Hooville
’Let there be light’
Lighting of the Lawn
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Thousands of students, staff and faculty gathered Dec. 5 for the University’s first-ever Lighting of the Lawn, initiated by the Class of 2002 in what is hoped to become an annual tradition.

By Matt Kelly

University electrician Ralph Himelrick is retiring with a splash, or maybe a flash.

His 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.

2002 Class President Portman Wills (right) honors U.Va. electrician Ralph Himelrick.

The 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.

Portman Wills, president of the Class of 2002, introduced Himelrick to the crowd, which responded with cheers and sustained applause.

“I was so pleased with all the work and with the crowd’s reaction to Ralph,” Wills said the next day. “I saw Ralph this morning and he was still teary-eyed.”

Wills estimated the crowd at between 5,000 and 6,000, and said he was happy with the mix of students and local people.

“Twas the Night Before Finals”

On a December Wednesday
As the semester ends
We gather in Hooville
Greeting our friends

But from up above Hooville,
A man, sinister green
Appeared on the Jumbotran
Glaring down from the screen

He had heard that in Hooville
That December night
The Wahoos would make the Lawn
Sparkly and bright

He pondered and wondered
And questioned and he thought
How to keep Hooville dark
So havoc could be wraught

Up there on Hoovision,
Scratching his chin
He debated just where
He might choose to begin

He snuck from the Stadium
Past all the new dorms
Past first-years on breaks
Hitting O'Hill in swarms

He snuck through the graveyard
And down to the Dell
Tiptoed past the Castle
And the Ed School, as well

Through Brown College haunts
And past Newcomb Hall
He slithered and slunk
And he hugged each brick wall

Meanwhile, our hero
Readied his steed
For he knew, he just sensed
That Hooville was in need

The Cavalier, perched
On the top of U-Hall
Saw the Grinch in the shadows
And sounded the call

Stately he rode
Through the columns he pounded
And at Beta Bridge
A loud war cry resounded

For the Grinch, nasty thing
Had stolen each light
He gathered them and
Down the Corner took flight

So the Cavalier, ready
Made chase on his horse
He flashed off down Rugby
Hot on old Grinchy's course

Past the Lucky Seven
He scoffed with a bellow
At the "Coming Soon" sign
(He's a humorous fellow)

Past each student at Starbucks
Serenely sipping
Past Espresso Royale
With its warm coffee dripping

Past the White Spot, past Arch's
Past Baja and then
He knew that ole' Grinchy was
At it again

Up, up through the mountains
He and his mount flew
Monticello: NEXT STOP!
For the Cavalier knew

That the Grinch would try stealing
Each light there as well
But as he rode up top
He heard a faint yell

He caught that old Grinch
But they froze in midair
Something was coming
A noise from down there

They strained hard to listen
And knew before long
That the Wahoos were singing
Their dear "Good Ole' Song"

The Grinch hadn't stopped Wahoos
From chanting at all
They all joined together
The tall and the small

And basketball players
Linked arms with the deans
They yelled, "Wa-hoo-wa,"
And you know what that means

It means we are winners
It means we're a team
And it meant that the Grinch,
In his eye got a gleam

He whistled the Cavalier's
Horse to his side
They hopped on together
And rode off astride

The new friends returned
Just a few minutes after
And with help from the students
And a handy lights-crafter

They hung up the lights
So they're ready to go
And now, babes and gents,
It is time for the show

The Grinch and the Cavalier
Waved to Wahoos galore,
And slipped off to the side
Of the Lawn's open back door

And they yelled, as together
They rode out of sight,
"Study hard, Wahoos,
But first. . .Let there be Light!"

Jenny Rae Cortese
Lighting of the Lawn
December 5, 2001

Himelrick, 67, has worked for the University for 1312 years, coming here as a union electrician after working a variety of construction jobs in Maryland and Virginia.

“I 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.”

Himelrick 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. Himelrick’s crew, primarily Wayne Russell and Shawn Wells, spent two weeks stringing lights on the Lawn.

The 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.

Wills noted that it had been a difficult semester at the University, with the terror attacks, heightened at U.Va. because of connections with the New York financial district and Washington, coupled with the downturn in the job market as the fourth-year students are looking for work.

“It’s been a tough semester and we wanted something that would unify everyone,” Wills said. “A joyful ending that would cement everyone together.”
Although both Wills and Himelrick said a lot of work went into the lights, both hope to see it become a U.Va. tradition.

“People may have gotten behind it because they see it as a one-off, but I would love to see it institutionalized,” Wills said.

Before the holiday lights, Himelrick did a lot of work on the Lawn, rewiring the pavilions as they were restored. J. Murray Howard, curator and architect for the Academical Village, said Himelrick was a wonderful person to work with during the extensive renovations of the pavilions, and his expertise will be missed.

“I hate to see him go,” Howard said, though he thought Lighting the Lawn was a spectacular swan song. He said he had not seen anything like it in his time at the University, and he believed it had not been done at any time in the past.

The Lawn will be lit in the evenings at least until the end of exams, Jan 1.


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