Stewart guides Nebraska Union decorations

Dec 4th, 2008 | By | Category: Campus News, December 4, 2008

Stockings have not been hung by the chimney with care, but signs of the holiday season have come to the Nebraska Union.

For the third year, Amy Stewart, a staff secretary, has guided a low-key decoration effort in the Nebraska Union. Approved by the Union Board and funded through student fees, the decorations are secular and evolvedfrom simple displays over revolving doors on the Nebraska Union’s north entrance.

“The idea is the Union is the living room for the entire campus community, and these decorations make it more inviting,” said Stewart, who works in the Nebraska Union. “We’re slowly building what we do display for the holiday season.”

Wreath hanging
SEASONAL WORK – Union workers John Gross and Amy Stewart hang a holiday wreath in the Nebraska Union on Nov. 25. Stewart has volunteered for the past three years to guide the Nebraska Union’s holiday decoration program.

The first year, Stewart created the two door displays – a soldier and train on the west door, a snowman scene to the east. Stewart expanded the decorations into garland and wreaths a year ago.

This season, Stewart added more greenery and a small string of icicle lights above the north entrance.

“Everything we put up is secular,” said Stewart. “I have a list of 900 symbols and customs for 204 holidays and celebrations that I use to be sure the decorations do not have a religious connection.”

The decorations also include an education element, since Stewart attached various facts to greenery ringing a second-floor banister.

info tag
EDUCATIONAL MESSAGE – Greenery on the second floor of the Nebraska Union Rotunda includes educational cards that inform about the history of holiday decorations.

To keep costs down, Stewart had John Gross, painter with the Nebraska Union, build a train and guardhouse for the soldier display. She also plans the decorations months ahead of time.

“I clip 50-percent-off coupons and start buying, usually in October,” said Stewart. “As soon as holiday items appear in the stores, I’m buying things for the Union.”

Stewart volunteered to guide the decorations three years ago. She is a self-described decoration nut who brags a holiday tree – many with a particular theme – in each room of her house and is usually the first on her block to hang exterior holiday lights.

Stewart designs each decoration hung in the Nebraska Union.

“Some people have started calling me ‘Martha,'” said Stewart with a smile. “Decorating is just something I really enjoy. I love being creative. And, I love the holidays.”

The work is controlled by the Union Board, which approves funds for the decorations. Stewart said the primary thing the board has asked is that more decorations be hung, mainly because of positive feedback.

Amy Stewart
HAND CRAFTED – Amy Stewart creates a bow on Nov. 26 for a wreath hung in the Nebraska Union Rotunda. Stewart designs the decorations in the Nebraska Union. All decorations are reused each year.

“It really adds a nice festive feel to the Union,” said Becky Henderson, a junior English major from Lincoln. “It sets the atmosphere. And, it gives us students something to look forward too during a stressful time of the school year.”

Henderson and Jessica Dussault, a junior music performance and history major from Lincoln, both appreciated the secular nature of the decorations.

“I’ve worked here for six years and I think the decorations are a nice touch,” said Linda Blunt, senior retail associate for University Dining Services. “It really adds something festive to the work environment. And, I hear a number of positive comments from students who stop in the Corner Bakery.”

Currently, the decorations take two days to hang. Gross and Joe Schroedl, a building services technician with the Nebraska Union, assist Stewart.

The decorations are stored and reused each December.

As for next year, Stewart is already making plans.

“I think it would be really great to have a 12-foot tree hanging over the Rotunda,” Stewart said. “I just need to figure out a way to make that possible.”

— Story and photos by Troy Fedderson, University Communications

Tags: , , ,

Leave Comment