The quad was lit.
As I emerged from the fog of a multi-hour study session in the library and into the smoke of hundreds of sparklers, I stopped for a moment to take in the sights, noises, and smells of one of Hopkins’s most highly anticipated events enveloped me completely.
The lighting of the quads – the annual holiday season kickoff on campus – was finally here. The event looked slightly different than previous years, or so I was told, as it had always occurred on Keyser Quad, but had to be moved to Shriver Quad his year due to construction. The change in location necessitated another break from tradition; the annual fireworks show that stands as the centerpiece of the event had to be scrapped (for reasons beyond my scope of knowledge).
Regardless of the changes from previous years, however, the event wowed. Disco Roller-skating, live music, dazzling art displays, fire-twirlers, and tons of free food – the quad was packed with everything an easily excitable college freshman could ask for. On top of that, it was all so bright – lights, lights were everywhere. In the art, on the trees, pointing from the buildings, everything sparkled and glowed with a purple/blue phosphorescence.
My friends and I sped around the quad to a rousing soundtrack of holiday music and “Come On Eileen”, and made sure to stop by every table that looked promising and check out their wares. There was food and drink galore: gingerbread men, donuts, hot chocolate, and chocolate fondue. What really got me, though, were the knickknacks. I came away from the night with a sticker, snack-bag clip, a small bamboo plant in a glass cup, and a full-size Chinese lantern, and that’s not even taking into account the light-up ornaments and silly putty that I didn’t manage to get my hands on.
After around an hour of walking to and waiting in various lines, we settled into the group around Shriver Hall waiting for the much anticipated laser show (in place of the fireworks). As the music died down and the statement grew, Provost Sunil Kumar, in place of revered president Ronnie D, stepped on stage for the annual Lighting of The Quads address, and shared a few beautiful ancient Indian passages on light.
And then the magic happened.
Given the signal from the stage, the crowd began to count down from ten. As the numbers shrunk, the excitement grew, and when the countdown hit zero, Shriver Hall exploded in a shower of techno-color lasers that radiated across the quad. I stood glued to my spot, captivated by the powerful beams of light that stretched high over my head, and experienced the primal awe one feels when facing such a powerful display. For a few moments, I forgot all about finals, and homework, and studying, and just enjoyed the moment I was in. There, I believe – aside from the roller-skating and free food – lies the true magic of The Lighting of The Quads. The opportunity to escape from the pressure of finals week that looms just around the corner and enjoy a nice festive night with your friends. The chance to enjoy some time off and unwind.
So with that feeling in mind, and the glow of lasers still dancing at the corners of my eyes, I went back to he library to study.