The University of Virginia has an unbroken penchant for tradition. Whether it be the long-standing advocacy for student self-governance, “The Good Ole Song,” or UVA’s unique vernacular, regard for the cherished customs of time’s past characterizes Grounds and distinguishes a UVA student’s college experience from any other in the nation.
With the days of warm temperatures slowly numbered, the crisp air and vibrant autumn hues are a welcomed reminder of the various additional UVA traditions that lay ahead in the second half of the fall semester. Here’s a look at some of the highly-awaited events that already have a spot on students’ calendars in the upcoming weeks.
Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn
Soon enough, a small army of future Hoos will descend upon the Lawn and demolish just about the entire supply of candy in Charlottesville with them. The tradition of Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn began in the late 1980s and still today is one of UVA’s most beloved traditions. The event is long awaited by many members of the Charlottesville community and their children, especially the alum of the University, who are eager to have their own kids partake in the festive fun on their old stomping Grounds. On the evening of Halloween, one will find the Lawnies passing out candy, also dressed in costume alongside the children, reveling in the cherished tradition that occurs right at their doorsteps and all along the Range. In addition to those who live on the Lawn, students, faculty, staff, and various CIOs contribute to making the event a success by donating and distributing candy or by dressing up to get in the spooky spirit of the season!
This year’s Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn will take place on October 31st, 2023 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Be sure to dress in costume and partake in passing out candy!
Pancakes for Parkinson’s
If you’ve been on the Corner lately, you might have seen a pop-up table run by UVA students selling pastel shirts with a fun Rotunda design for Pancakes for Parkinson’s.
The tradition of Pancakes for Parkinson’s dates back to 2003 when then UVA student Mary McNaught, now Mary Yonkman, began donating to the Michael J. Fox Foundation after her godmother was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. However, little did Mary know her idea for Pancakes for Parkinson’s was in its early stages of development before she even stepped foot onto Grounds. Known for her affinity for pancakes, in her application to UVA, Mary wrote that her favorite word was “pancake,” and if accepted to UVA, she would “coordinate a pancake event on the Lawn.” The event “would be extended to all, to come by the Rotunda and enjoy delicious pancakes, while experiencing a greater sense of community.” Years later, feeling compelled to have a prominent role in helping support research for Parkinson’s, Mary went to work, turning her idea into a concrete plan.
With a small, but mighty executive committee, and the help of donors from the surrounding area willing to donate pancake mix and syrup, Mary’s vision eventually became a reality. Since its infancy in 2003, the annual event brings together UVA students and members of the Charlottesville community for a day dedicated to free pancakes, musical performances, a silent auction, raffle, and a great cause.
This year, the 20th anniversary of Pancakes for Parkinson’s will be held Saturday, November 4th from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm on South Lawn. All proceeds will benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Lighting of the Lawn
In what has become one of the most anticipated traditions for the UVA student body, the University’s annual Lighting of the Lawn brings together UVA and Charlottesville community members for a lively gathering to lift spirits at the start of the holiday season. The event was created in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks in 2001. In the months following the national tragedy, tension and uncertainty plagued the University. A group of student leaders on the Fourth Year Trustees Committee decided to quite literally bring back a “sense of light to Grounds” to cultivate an environment of inclusivity and fellowship. Since the first Lighting on the Lawn on December 15th, 2001, the event has become a calendar staple for those in the Charlottesville community each year.
Members of the Lighting of the Lawn planning committee spare no expense or effort in making it a memorable evening for all those who attend. From an illuminating Rotunda light show, performances from various acapella, dance and musical groups, food trucks, hot beverages, and free snacks galore, LOTL remains a time-honored tradition that continues to represent unity and strength.
This date for the 2023 Lighting of the Lawn has yet to be announced; however, you can bookmark the official LOTL website to check back for announcements and/or follow them on Instagram @lotluva.
What UVA tradition is your favorite? Leave a comment below!