Festival to light up La Roche, Sisters of Divine Providence campuses

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 9:40 p.m.

La Roche College and the Sisters of Divine Providence will host their annual Festival of Lights on Dec. 6 on their adjoining campuses in McCandless.

The event, from 3 to 9 p.m., is open to all, and admission is free.

“Thousands of people come to the festival each year,” said Colleen Ruefle, vice president for student life and dean of students at La Roche. “We've been doing this for years, and it's really become a nice event.”

A craft show starting at 3 p.m. at Zappala College Center will kick off the festivities.

Christmas karaoke, a visit from Santa Claus and a live Nativity will take place during the event.

Representatives of La Roche student organizations will lead games and crafts for children.

“For instance, the English Club will help kids write letters to Santa; the environmental club will make pine-cone bird feeders,” said Ruefle, 47, of Hampton Township.

The official Christmas tree will be lit by La Roche College's president, Sister Candace Introcaso, on the Bold Hall II lawn at 6 p.m.

Horse-drawn carriage rides will take participants on a scenic 10-minute tour through the campus, past the live Nativity, and around the Sisters of Divine Providence Motherhouse for a nominal charge.

Live performances will be presented by the Ladies of Note, Village Quartet and Village Singers — all from the Tri-County Choir Institute.

In addition, the 15-member choir and 11-member band from Providence Heights Alpha School in McCandless will present many Christmas favorites. The children will perform “Believe” from “The Polar Express,” “It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” plus other popular yuletide classics, according to Jackie Fox, 24, of Pittsburgh, who teaches music at the school.

“They are incredibly excited for the event,” she said.

The evening will culminate with a fireworks display at 8:15 p.m. Lit from the athletic field, the fireworks can be seen from any vantage point on the campus grounds, located at 9000 Babcock Blvd.

The festival also will include the Cans for Cocoa food drive, in which attendees can donate canned goods and other nonperishable food items for North Hills Community Outreach's food pantries. The La Roche Student Government Association will accept donations from 6 to 8 p.m. on the lawn of Bold Hall II. Donors will receive a complimentary 12-ounce cup of cocoa.

Other concessions will be available for sale throughout the grounds and in the dining hall.

“(The) Festival of Lights is a festive evening where we join with our sponsored ministries — Providence Heights Alpha School and La Roche College — in welcoming the Christmas season,” said Sister Mary Francis Fletcher, 71, provincial director of the Sisters of Divine Providence in McCandless. “It gives us an opportunity to open our doors to our neighbors, invite them to meet the sisters, see where we live and worship, and begin the journey together from Advent to Christmas.”

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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