The holiday cheer was palpable last Friday night as Randy Nichols, executive director of the office of safety and security, paid Howell House a visit to tell holiday stories and spread the spirit of the season.
Due to the delayed deliverance of hundreds of COVID-19 test results from the preceding day, all registered Residential Life events were cancelled on Friday except for the holiday storytime, which was substance-free.
“Celeste [Hynes] in ResLife emailed me that our event could continue because it’s substance-free and … the assumption is that people were more likely to wear their masks and abide by COVID-19 rules,” Sachin Maharaj ’24, co-organizer of the event, said.
Morgan Richter ’24, who also helped plan the event, explained the importance of carrying on this tradition.
“I’ve never experienced [the event] … because it couldn’t happen last year due to COVID-19, but it was brought up again by upperclass [students] who thought it might be a good idea to start up again,” Richter said.
Anna Cox ’24, a long-time artist and one of the Howell house chairs, of Howell, drew posters for the event using Photoshop and the iPad app Procreate.
“I have designed all the posters for Howell events so far, so the idea was something that Sachin [Maharaj] and Morgan [Richter], the committee members for this event, brainstormed and then gave to me,” Cox said. “I had creative freedom on pose and clothing, and my overall inspiration for this piece was Norman Rockwell with his rosy-cheeked figures.”
Adorned in a Santa Claus hat and accompanied by his five-and-a-half-year-old poodle Marle, Nichols connected with students by using personal anecdotes and well-known stories befitting the holiday season. Nichols also brought some of his own equipment to the event, including a historic microphone which dates back to World War II. The microphone was gifted to Nichols by the general manager of the now-defunct Maine radio station WFAU where he worked in the 1970s before entering public safety.
“Many very well-known people have been interviewed on this microphone … famous politicians, actors, actresses, people from all walks of life,” Nichols said at the event.
After explaining the origins of his microphone, Nichols read Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem “A visit from St. Nicholas,” a nineteenth-century story widely read during the holidays. He then moved onto “‘Twas Nochebuena,” a picture book he was introduced to by friends from Colombia.
Later, he brought in Marle, placing reindeer antlers on her head for his rendition of Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” To the audience’s disappointment, Marle repeatedly swatted the antlers off.
“Marle was a nice addition,” attendee Sarah Greenberg ’24 said. “After Thanksgiving break, everyone is stressed about finals, so I think having a dog present made a lot of people happy in a very stressful time.”