KNOXVILLE — Each year as students leave campus for Thanksgiving Break Johnson’s faculty and staff join together to help uphold a tradition.
The Hanging of the Greens, a campus-wide Christmas decorating event, has taken place for as long as its current organizer, and Coordinator for the School of Arts & Sciences and Service Learning, Carrie Overdorf, can remember.
“Thanksgiving weeks provides us the perfect time when students are away to just scurry around and get everything decorated,” she said.
Overdorf described how the Hanging of the Greens acts as a gift to the students from faculty and staff.
“We kind of get out of our offices for a little bit and it is really fun to kind of play elf. Our campus it beautiful when [students] get back,” she said. “It is a really fun for us thinking about that Sunday night before [students] come back from break when everyone is kind of rolling in and all the lights are on.”
One tradition that used to take place over Christmas Break, Finger Food Day, was combined with the Hanging of the Greens to make one big event.
Overdorf said this led to an increase in volunteers which has helped the school accomplish more elaborate decorations.
“We’ve kind of upped our game on the decoration side so we needed more help, so that worked out well last year,” she said.
The volunteers are joined by the grounds crew who can spend up to a day and a half putting up the garland for each lamppost in good weather.
Overdorf described all that goes in to pulling off the decorations each year.
“Inventory has a huge job of getting out all the decorations to their designated locations. [Mike Moore] and Perry Morin always get up the giant wreaths on the ends of the dorms and on Richardson Hall,” she said. “And then Tuesday through Wednesday of the break we put up the trees in the Gally for Miller Scott and for the rest of the season. ”
This year’s decorations will be similar to last year’s as the school makes sure to remain within budget.
“Every few years we’ll add a new piece or replace some of the older garlands or things like that,” she said. “A couple of years ago we added a sleigh and some block trees out front and last year we had new trees in the Gally dining hall. Most everything else stays the same.”
Overdorf encouraged all staff and faculty who will be on campus Monday through Wednesday of next week to participate in the family-friendly event.
“Finger foods are the best, John Ketchen makes a mean candied bacon,” she laughed. “It’s fun too because we have new families each year and new staff, some families even decorate together.”
The Hanging of the Greens will begin on Nov. 21.
Contact Carrie Overdorf at COverdorf@johnsonu.edu for more information on how to get involved.