Students got into the Christmas spirit as the university hosted its 65th annual Tree Lighting ceremony on Thursday. The event began on the Horseshoe and concluded at the President's House with refreshments.
The program started by highlighting the work of Carolina Cares and the Salvation Army which provided stockings filled with toys for children in the surrounding area.
The program also highlighted the work of the university's partnership with the Red Cross to provide handwritten holiday cards to military service members and their families.
Student Body President Luke Rankin, University President Bob Caslen and Maj. Henry Morris from the Salvation Army served as guest speakers for the event.
The program ended with a performance from Cockapella and the lighting of the tree.
After the program, students were invited to the President's House where they were served hors d'oeuvres, hot chocolate and cider.
First-year marketing and management student Katherine Palmer and first-year biochemistry and Spanish student Brynn Lynagh said they were really excited about coming to the tree lighting because they love the Christmas holiday.
"We wrapped my entire dorm room in wrapping paper on Nov. 1," Lynagh said. "We love Christmas and we love USC."
Palmer said being invited to the president's house made her feel welcome.
"It made us feel like we were at a family's house for Christmas," Palmer said. "Definitely feels like your home away from home, and Christmas is about like home and family, and this is everyone's second home and second family."
Second-year English student Carter Mccandless said the event was a good way to destress from the pressures of finals.
"Definitely got my mind off of finals for, you know, an hour or so," Mccandless said.
Fourth-year retail management student Eliza Dozier came to the tree lighting to get extra credit in a class, but said she ended up really enjoying the event. Dozier said she was also surprised at all the event had to offer.
"I thought they were just going to plug in the tree and that's that," Dozier said. "It needs some more advertising. It's a cool little event. I feel like more people need to know about it."
Caslen said even though it was his first time participating in the tree lighting, it left a strong first impression on him.
"I love the tradition, I love the tree lighting, and what I really love is the open house in the president's house right now," Caslen said. "If this is the tradition, I love it."
Caslen said that only thing he would change about the event is the student turnout.
"I would just hope that more students would be able to participate and we get the word out," Caslen said. "If 30,000 students came by my house, I'd love it."