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A Night Like No Other: The Tradition of Carol Night Continues at Chestnut Hill College

A Night Like No Other: The Tradition of Carol Night Continues at Chestnut Hill College

The Hill Singers, under the direction of Donald Holdren, serenaded the audience with beautiful renditions of popular Christmas hymns.After a year away, Chestnut Hill College’s in-person Carol Night returned in all of its festive glory on the night of December 3, 2021. The Rotunda was packed from floor to floor with members of the CHC community gathering together to ring in the holiday season in the only way Griffins know how. That of course being through melodious and harmonious tunes made possible by wonderful student vocalists and musicians, under the direction of Sister Kathleen McCloskey, SSJ, as well as the support of alumni and friends of the College. 

Carol Night’s return was greeted by resounding jubilation. Due to COVID-19, the College was not able to gather for Carol Night in 2020 as it has done for the past nearly 100 years. Instead, last year’s Carol Night was held virtually, because as they say, “the show must go on.” In December 2020, that is exactly what Chestnut Hill College did as nothing was going to stop the music or the beloved tradition. A beautiful livestreamed Carol Night took place, complete with new performances, old favorites, photo montages, and special surprises. Hundreds of Griffins tuned in to the event and shared their own memories along the way. 

But as Sister Kathleen noted in her opening remarks of this year’s event, “there really isn’t anything like the live performance…This Carol Night, will be a night to remember.” 

The Rotunda was packed as audience members took in the carols from all floors.

And a night to remember it was.  

Hosted by Cheryl Ann Kennedy ’87, traffic reporter for IHeart Media’s Total Traffic & Weather Network, this year’s Carol Night featured unique performances including a religious dance number set to Silent Night performed by four Dominican sisters who are also current students at the College. There was a moving harp number by Michelle Fella Przybylowski ’80, an upbeat violin duet by Alyssa Cherawaty ’13 and Tyler Meil ’13, and, as always, wonderful singing of Christmas carols by the Hill Singers, who are comprised of a group of students, faculty, alumni, and friends.

Instrumental music in the form of percussion (Ovidio Z. Pool ‘22), piano (Matthew Esposito ’19), and trumpet (Chris Bunn ’20) as well as a visit from Santa and an artificial snowfall from the sky, helped to set the festive mood of the night. 

There was also a tribute dedicating this year’s celebration to Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., who will be retiring as president of the College in June 2022. 

Set to the tune of 'Silent Night,' Dominican sisters performed a beautiful religious dance during Carol Night.

“Sister Carol, after more than 30 years, you have embodied the tradition of Carol Night,” Cherawaty expressed. “With your support, this night has become an evening where alumni reunite on campus, remembering when they were the young students making the rotunda shine, where current students show off their hard work through music, and where we all come together joining in Christmas cheer with all of the Griffins before us and here tonight. Sister Carol, thank you for your leadership, light, and love during Christmas time and always.” 

As individuals returned to the Rotunda this year, some for the first time since before COVID and others for much longer ago than that, it was clear that the fanfare of Carol Night has not diminished. For many Griffins, this truly is the start of their holiday season.  

Popular habitats such as the big cat crossing, primate reserve, penguin point, and more were recreated as part of the Philadelphia Zoo-inspired display.

However, Carol Night was not the only beloved Holiday on the Hill tradition that returned this year as the College was thrilled to bring back its Christmas Decorating with a twist. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni all had the opportunity to decorate various spaces on campus as part of a Christmas in Philadelphia-inspired theme. One group, Chestnut Hill College’s Interdisciplinary Honors Program, transformed the 2nd floor of the Rotunda into the Philadelphia Zoo. Another group turned the 3rd floor resources hallway into a fun and festive “12 Doors of Christmas.” There were nods to the Philadelphia sports teams, Love Park, classic Philadelphia favorite foods and sayings, and so much more as part of this year’s displays. 

In the words of Kennedy, and echoing a phrase that many have also said before, “nobody does Christmas like Chestnut Hill College.” 

Visit our Photo Gallery to see more photos from this year's Carol Night!

Missed the special celebration or just want to view it again as you prepare for the holidays? You can watch Carol Night in full below!


Marilee Gallagher '14 


Chestnut Hill College wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Joyous, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year!

Posted In: Around Campus