We have kicked off the holiday season by bringing light to Uptown Normal! Traditionally, the Uptown Normal tree lighting kicked off ISU Homecoming week. Although this year’s celebration looks different, the lights will continue to shine during the holidays and throughout the winter season.

For the last seven years, the Town of Normal and the University have partnered to light our Uptown in red and white lights, bringing joy and smiles to the Normal community. The Town of Normal-Illinois State University town-and-gown relationship is a mix of civic engagement and school pride.

This is one of the best town and gown relationships in the country. “Illinois State is proud to partner with the Town of Normal as its largest employer and an economic engine that impacts the local economy by a half-billion dollars annually,” President Dr. Larry Dietz said.

The relationship is not only economically sound, but also mutually beneficial to both the University and the Town of Normal.

“ISU benefits from being located in Normal,” said Mayor Chris Koos, “a community with a long track record of growth and prosperity. In return, Normal benefits from the presence of a young, well-educated population.”

The town-and-gown relationship between the Town of Normal and ISU has grown due to the University’s close proximity to Uptown Normal, making it one of the top college towns in the country. Illinois State’s success would not be possible without the relationship with the town.

“Normal is a calling card that Illinois State highlights to attract students and their families from all over the state,” said Dietz. “With pride, ISU and the Town of Normal partner regularly for the benefit of our community.”

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the community has seen the benefits from this partnership.

“The current COVID-19 environment, as well as the changing demographic, political, and economic trends, are forcing the private, public, and educational sectors to all rethink how they operate,” said Koos, who has seen this collaborative partnership tackle issues like workforce development or addressing the realities of the pandemic.

Due to the close town and gown relationship of Normal and Illinois State, many of the University’s 21,000 students end up calling Normal their home. It has always been a goal of the Town of Normal to make Redbirds feel included in the community, which deserves recognition and celebration.

Let’s celebrate the town-and-gown relationship and enjoy the red and white lights in Uptown Normal this holiday season!