The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Bush Library kicks off the season with 18th annual Holidays in the Rotunda celebration

Photo by Photo by Paul Burke

Towering over the local singers and dancers performing in the Rotunda stood the 19 foot tall brightly decorated Christmas tree.

On Dec. 2 the Bush Library hosted their 18th annual Holidays in the Rotunda celebration that aims to help children and families in the Bryan-College Station community.
Holidays in the Rotunda has been held in the Bush Library since 1999 and provides a chance for the museum and the community to interact, providing children with a unique holiday experience free of charge.
The event featured performances by local youth dance troupes, meetings with Santa and ornament decorating in front of the rotunda’s Christmas tree. Holiday cookies and punch were also provided.
Shirley Hammond, the Director of Education at the Bush Library, has been involved with Holidays in the Rotunda since she came to the museum 16 years ago and said the event holds special significance because of the impact it has on families.
“To me, this is a special highlight, not only because it’s the magic of this season but also because this is a very special family event,” Hammond said. “I’ll always remember an incredible thing that happened to me. One year I had a family of five, a father, a mother and three children, and they came early in the morning and then they stayed until we closed and they all had armfuls of ornaments in their hands when they left. The father came up to me and said ‘I just want to thank you. We’ve had a difficult year and these are the only ornaments we have this year.’”
Holidays in the Rotunda represents an opportunity for the Bush Library to give back to the community during the holidays since it comes at no cost to the visiting public, according to Tracy Paine, director of Public Programs at the Bush Library.
“I just think it’s so important to involve the community in what we do here,” Paine said. “All of our public programs are free and we do that just so we can give back to the community. This particular event has been underwritten by TXU [energy], so we have an endowment that will cover this event in perpetuity so we’ll always be able to do this.”
For Paine, the highlight of the event is watching the many performances put on by seven local youth dance troupes.
“It’s just a fun thing,” Paine said. “It gives the kids an opportunity to perform in front of a crowd in front of a beautiful Christmas tree and it’s fun for them, it’s fun for us,” Paine said.
Doug Campbell, Bush Library archivist and volunteer at the event, assisted children in crafting their own handmade ornaments. For Campbell, the value of this activity comes from getting kids involved in hand making their decorations — an experience he said can’t be found anywhere else in the community.
“Personally, I think it’s wonderful that we have an event where kids can come in with their parents and actually create ornaments,” Campbell said. “I don’t know anyone else here locally that’s doing that.”
Campbell’s family also had the opportunity to experience the event for the first time this year.
“My wife even brought my four children in this morning and they just had a blast,” Campbell said. “An all around good family fun experience — and you can’t beat free, right?”
According to Hammond, Holidays in the Rotunda plays an important role in fulfilling the Bush Library’s dedication to education, a goal which she said must include the family as a whole, not just the children.
“You never know what type of impact you’re going to make, but we want to share the joy and resources we have with the community,” Hammond said. “As an educator, I’m in charge of the education mission here and really it’s all about the educational service and that includes the entire family.”

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  • As part of the festivities in the Bush Library, children could meet Santa and even grab a candy cane along the way.

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