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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

campus decorated for Christmas

60 Years of Christmas Magic

Talking to Chloe Chelovitz ’24 and Fiona Dusenberry ’24 is a little like meeting a couple of elves straight from the North Pole. It doesn’t matter the time of year, according to Chelovitz, “We are always thinking about Christmas.” This merry pair are the co-coordinators for Christmas on Campus, an annual University of Dayton tradition celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Christmas on Campus began in 1963, when students wanted a way to enjoy the Christmas spirit before returning home for break. That first celebration was simple — with UD students, faculty and staff joining together for a candlelight procession to a live Nativity.

Fast forward 60 years later and the tradition has evolved into something current students, local schoolchildren and the greater Dayton community look forward to with anticipation. “Christmas on Campus means a lot to past and current students, as well as the Dayton community. As a Catholic university, it’s important to have a night focused on the true meaning of Christmas — the giving, not the getting,” said Dusenberry, a marketing major.

Typically held each year on December 8 — the Feast of the Immaculate Conception — Christmas on Campus includes pairing current Flyers with first and second grade students from Dayton Public Schools for a night of Christmas cheer on UD’s campus. “I love seeing the faces of the kids when they get off the bus to meet their UD buddy. They are excited to be with them, and to get a gift of course,” said Dusenberry.

More than 1,200 buddy pairs spend the evening decorating cookies, creating Christmas crafts and making slime at festive stations sponsored by student organizations. There are even opportunities to meet student-athletes and battle in the Nerf dart arena.

Chelovitz, an elementary education major, is especially moved by how much the night means to kids. “This event means so much to the kids. The fact that they don’t want to leave at the end of the night shows the impact and joy of the event,” said Chelovitz.

Samantha Mulcrone ’25, a management major, agrees.

She was touched by how much the event meant to her ‘buddy’ last year. “After a night of making slime, creating crafts, and dancing, I asked my buddy what her favorite part was. She told me it was just hanging out with me. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled bigger,” said Mulcrone.

“After a night of making slime, creating crafts, and dancing, I asked my buddy what her favorite part was. She told me it was just hanging out with me. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled bigger,” said Mulcrone.

This year’s event, themed A Christmas on Campus Story; Bringing Cheer for 60 Years, evokes a vintage ’60s Christmas vibe that pays homage to the event’s history and the alumni who have been a part of it. “We know many alumni are planning to come back to campus for this year’s event. We want them to feel the nostalgia, while exposing the school kids and their parents to some of the history associated with Christmas on Campus,” said Dusenberry.

That history will also be captured in a special documentary being created for the 60th anniversary. “Most people don’t understand the amount of work involved in planning Christmas on Campus, and the documentary gives a behind-the-scenes look,” said Chelovitz. A core group of 28 students, making up eight subcommittees, plans and executes every detail of the event, from decorating campus with thousands of twinkle lights and coordinating with local schools, to managing buddy pairs and marketing the event.

All the work is worth it.

Chelovitz and Dusenberry embrace the opportunity to be a part of this long-standing tradition and understand its importance. “UD is committed to fostering connections between the University and the city of Dayton. The event is a joyful and fun way to bring both the UD and Dayton community together,” said Chelovitz.

But they freely admit that UD students get a lot from the evening as well. “The magic of Christmas fades the older you get, and it’s nice to get the chance to be a kid again and share the magic of Christmas with others. Not to mention that it’s a bright spot around finals,” said Dusenberry.

Over the past 60 years, the magic of Christmas on Campus has inspired countless Flyer alumni, in communities across the country, to host their own Christmas off Campus events. Toy drives, Breakfast with Santa and other events give alumni the opportunity to translate their Christmas on Campus memories into service projects that make a difference in their local communities.

And while Chelovitz and Dusenberry graduate from UD in May, they aren’t planning to give up their Christmas elf duties just yet. They both plan to get involved as alumni and keep this magical tradition alive for many more years.

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