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“Lighting of the Gator” event set for Dec. 3

Everyone in the University of Florida community is invited to celebrate the end of the semester with the ceremonial lighting of a new alligator sculpture to be erected temporarily in December.

The “Lighting of the Gator” ceremony is set for Tuesday, Dec. 3, from 5 to 6 p.m. on the lawn of the University Auditorium near the corner of Newell Drive and Union Road.

The centerpiece of the ceremony will be a large, new alligator sculpture, commissioned for the event from a local artist and blacksmith, that will be illuminated as darkness falls. Students with the University Chamber Singers will sing songs of the season, and cookies, hot chocolate and hot apple cider will be served.

“We wanted to create a way for the UF community to come together as students complete their exams, papers and projects and as we celebrate the end of the year and the start of the winter holidays,” said UF President Kent Fuchs, who will attend the ceremony. “What better way than with an elegant and whimsical alligator sculpture that will light up the night in the heart of our campus in December?”

The steel sculpture — which is about 8 feet tall and 8.5 feet in diameter — has been created over the past five weeks by Gainesville artist and blacksmith Leslie Tharp, who earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the UF College of the Arts in 2008.

It is designed to be movable and will be removed later in December and made available for future celebrations. 

“The concept of the piece is the celebration of light,” Tharp said. “The semester is ending, and for a lot of people the holiday could mean so many different things, so we wanted to focus in on the theme of light.”


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