As holidays can brighten the dreary days of winter, Belmont University’s maintenance department makes it their mission to ensure students have Christmas spirit as the annual Christmas decorations put up around campus.
The school’s maintenance and grounds department begin to work on decorations the week prior to Thanksgiving, and work through the Sunday after Thanksgiving so students can come back from Thanksgiving Break to a fresh breath of holiday cheer. They try to have all the decorations put up within 10 days after they start.
Grounds manager Mary Weber leads the annual project and works closely with Ken Duncan, the manager of the maintenance department and Henry Lacher, the director of facilities and grounds. Facilities Management Services and senior leadership also collaborate to strategize for the best possible display.
Every year the decoration plans include previous year’s work, and with the continuous additions of buildings every year, new decorations are purchased and included. This year, new decorations were included for the Randall and Sadie Baskin Center and McAfee Concert Hall. The budget varies from year-to-year for decorations, so it’s hard to give an exact estimate, Lacher said.
“The decorations have been purchased over a number of years. On a year-to-year basis, the university supplies a budget to FMS to replace worn decorations and lights that need to be replaced,” Lacher said.
The planning for the holiday season isn’t difficult after years of planning, Lacher said. They document every year’s decorations with photos saved to use as a guide for future years. The only difficult job is adapting the changes made around the campus, and how they will work around them, Lacher said.
“Of course there have been a few changes over the years due to new buildings coming on line, but Mary Weber does a great job of maintaining and modifying this on a year-to-year basis,” Lacher said.
After the planning is done, the labor begins for the staff. Maintenance and grounds workers haul the decorations from the various Facilities Management storage areas around campus, where they are stored during the off-season. They then install lights and decorations on a much larger scale than most. Lacher said they have to rent a lift to reach the higher points on campus.
For some students, it’s easy to admire the work the groundskeepers go through to prepare the campus for the holidays.
“Being away from home during the holiday season for the first time has been tough,” freshman Brett Jackson said. “Seeing the lights and trees and other holiday reminders around Belmont makes it easier.”