All are welcome to the 16th annual tree- and crèche-lighting ceremony that will begin at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, on the lower quadrangle of the University of St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus.

In addition to the crèche, located atop the university’s landmark Summit Avenue Arches, the university is lighting a large pine not far from the Arches and the deciduous trees leading from the campus’ lower quad to its upper quad.

For the first time, a 34-foot artificial tree will decorate the atrium of the Anderson Student Center, which opened in January. Although it is located inside the three-story atrium, the tree will be visible from throughout most of the newly expanded lower quad.

The annual ceremony also features music, readings, hot chocolate and holiday cookies.

St. Thomas has had an outdoor Nativity scene for more than six decades. Campus clubs erected the first scenes in the 1940s. Later, Dr. Hugo Reny, a Vienna-born psychology professor, fashioned flat, hand-painted plywood figures that were displayed in the quadrangle.

In 1950, a log-wall stage – some 8 feet high and 5 feet wide – was built for the scene and installed on the Summit Avenue-facing veranda of Aquinas Hall. It later was replaced by the more elaborate and lighted statues that the university’s Physical Plant staff install each December on top of the Arches.