University holds 6th annual Light the Fountain event

Samantha Vise, Volunteer Writer

The “Light the Fountain” tradition continued for the sixth year in a row at the University of North Alabama on March 10. To coincide with the Year of the UNA Woman, the university honored former athlete and alumni, Ande Jones, who joined UNA’s President, Kenneth Kitts, in flipping the switch to light the fountain. Ms. Jones graduated from the university in 1976 and later returned to coach volleyball, tennis and softball. Every year, the fountain is turned off during the winter to prevent pipes from freezing over. The “Light the Fountain” event reminds students that warmer weather is on the way and gives them an opportunity to come out and get together with friends. 

The event kicked off at 6:30 p.m. in Harrison Plaza– the heart of UNA’s campus. UNA’s University Program Council (UPC) members walked around, passing out glow sticks and hyping up the crowd. Music blared and tents were set up with students and staff alike handing out hotdogs, chips and drinks. There was also a photo station set up for guests to capture memories of the event with friends and family. UNA police officers walked around greeting guests and handing out keychains.

“There is a huge turnout! It’s so great to see everyone from so many aspects of campus,” said Claire Stone, a freshman. “I love getting to see so many people here that I know– whether they be a friend, sorority sister, professor, or classmate. It’s just amazing to see everyone come out and show school spirit.” 

At 7:00, UPC began handing out free “Light the Fountain” t-shirts. However, students had lined up at the two UPC tents long before then. Some had waited up to 45 minutes in line to get a free t-shirt and raffle ticket for a chance to win a $250 university bookstore gift card. Student Government Association (SGA) presidential candidate, Amber Sandvig, took this opportunity to walk by the line and talk to students about the upcoming election. Many students passed the wait time by taking selfies, singing along to the music, and trying to spot friends amongst the crowd.

The event continues to grow every year. At the 2017 “Light the Fountain” event, SGA made 300 t-shirts to pass out, according to the Flor-Ala. At this year’s ceremony, UPC made 1,000 t-shirts to hand out to students. 

“As a first-year student, I try to come out to as many events as I can to get to know more about the university,” said Owen Ellenburg, a freshman. “It’s a much bigger event than I expected, and I hope I can snag a free shirt.”

The majority of the buzzing students were freshmen, excited to witness this campus tradition for the first time. Others were returning students, happy to see this tradition continue through the chaos of Covid-19. 

“‘Light the Fountain’ is a tradition that has been going on for years. Last year we had to be very careful due to Covid, so I did not attend for personal reasons,” said Omar Figueroa, a sophomore. “Now that I am able to attend, I’m really enjoying my time here, and I am so excited!” 

The excitement continued into 7:15, as UNA cheerleaders, dance team and percussion performed a pep rally. They fired up the crowd and readied them for the pinnacle event. The lighting ceremony itself started at 7:30. Miss UNA 2022, Claire Hendrickson, welcomed President Kitts and special guest Ande Jones to the stage. Before the fountain was lit, President Kitts took a moment of silence to honor Laura Harrison– who provided the fountain to the university– before he addressed the crowd.

Kendal Coleman


 “Of all the colleges and universities out there, we are the only one with ‘Light the Fountain’. [It is] all ours, all ours.” President Kitts said.


Kitts then introduced special guest Ande Jones. He also took the time to recognize the various student groups that had come out to the event: UPC, SGA, Lion Athletics, Fraternity & Sorority Life, international students and LaGrange Society. 


The UNA fight song played and the countdown began, with SGA President Jake Statom leading the countdown from 10, and Ms. Jones lit the fountain. Harrison Plaza was engulfed in purple light. Excited cheers exploded from the crowd, everyone was thrilled to have the fountain finally lit. Freshman Dessa Faulkner was grateful to be able to connect with friends at the ceremony. 

“It makes me so happy that we get to have events like this on campus, so everyone can come together and connect with each other. It’s a beautiful experience,” Faulkner said. 

Music continued to play, and the crowd danced and cheered in the light of the fountain, ringing in another year of campus tradition.