KINGS POINT, N.Y., December 13, 2016 – Last night, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) hosted its 39th annual Festival of Lights in the Mariners’ Memorial Chapel. The Festival of Lights is an interfaith celebration that has become a beloved tradition at USMMA. Many of the world’s religions celebrate the significance of light during the holiday season, and USMMA’s Festival of Lights brings together the Academy’s faith communities for an evening that celebrates shared values and reminds us to be a light to those around us.
The evening, which featured the talents of faculty and midshipmen, began with a musical prelude that included several holiday favorites, from The Nutcracker Suite to a guitar version of The Carol of the Bells by Midshipman Joseph Springer. The Festival Chorus performed many songs throughout the program and midshipmen delivered readings and lit candles. “They did such an incredible job and truly brought the spirit of the holiday season to the Academy. I am so proud of them,” said LCDR Commander Jerry Durham, Command Chaplain.
Midshipman Stacee Glass, shared her family’s Chanukah Story, as well as a few laughs, while pointing out the special precautions that should be taken when children have their own menorah. Captain John Hagedorn, shared some of the many holiday traditions that mariners have observed over the years and those that continue to this day. He specifically mentioned the Christmas Tree Ships that sailed the Great Lakes bringing trees to German immigrants in Chicago. He finished by reminding the congregants to look at the tree that is lit aboard our own training vessel, the Kings Pointer.
At the end of the evening, Rear Admiral Susan L. Dunlap, Deputy Superintendent, wished everyone a very happy holiday season. She said, “no matter where you spend the holidays, I hope you are surrounded by family and friends who love you. I wish you very safe travels.”
Midshipman Andrew Zdeb, Newman Club President, said, “Although I was only able to attend my plebe year due to sea year, looking back as a First Classman, the Festival of Lights was one of the more memorable moments during my time here. I want to thank Chaplain Durham, Dr. Meloan, the brass section, lectors, ushers, everyone that set-up, and last but not least, the Glee Club, for their help in making my last one, the best one.
Click Festival of Lights 2016 for a full list of participants.