Iona chapter of Sigma Tau Delta restarts annual Halloween event

Emily Varker, Copy Editor

The Iona Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, hosted its first in-person Halloween event since 2019 on Oct. 27, celebrating the feast day of St. Oran. St. Oran has a connection to Iona because he was one of St. Columba’s comrades and helped him build the monastery on the Isle of Iona. However, the legend of what happened to St. Oran on the isle is extremely creepy and perfectly fitting to the Halloween spirit. 

Neil Gaiman wrote a poem for his 2015 collection of poems and short stories, “Trigger Warning,” about St. Columba and St. Oran. This poem is what initially inspired this gathering. Dr. Carlson, faculty advisor to Iona’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter and the organizer of the event, spoke of its origins.  

Well, Dr. Moretti was the first person to suggest a St. Oren’s day event, based on Neil Gaimen’s poem/animated short film, but knowing the legend and having been in St. Oren’s chapel on the isle of Iona myself, I took it and ran with it, and of course Dr. Rosenfeld put his own hilarious stamp on it,” Dr. Carlson said.  

Members of Sigma Tau Delta, the English department and the general Iona community gathered on the evening of Oct. 27 in front of the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice Chapel where Dr. Carlson read Gaiman’s poem and attendees were presented with a spooky surprise courtesy of Dr. Rosenfeld. After that, all gathered went on a candlelit walk across campus, with a brief stop at St. Columba’s statue. There students could present small offerings, such as a pumpkin, to ask the saint to intercede for a successful academic year. The walk then concluded at the English house where attendees could enjoy light refreshments and each other’s company. 

Gianna Cocovinis, junior and co-chair of Iona’s chapter of the society, remarked about the event afterwards. 

“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the event – but it definitely delivered with all the spooky vibes and fun nature of a Halloween feast,” Cocovinis said.  “We lit candles, heard a few ghost stories, and even had a few good scares thrown in, along with some great refreshments over at the English house. It was awesome mingling with fellow English majors and seeing all the professors for a spooky, exciting Halloween feast!” 

The excitement could definitely be felt in the air. The English department and Sigma Tau Delta were fairly active before the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting annual Halloween and Christmas parties amongst other events. During the 2020-2021 school year, however, these events did not take place in-person, and they were sorely missed. So, this event was all the more exciting as Sigma Tau Delta was able to start with such a unique and fun event.   

I love the idea because it links something literary and something seasonally appropriate with our institutional identity; Oct. 27 is St. Oren’s actual feast day, so it seems a natural tie-in to the Sigma Tau Delta Halloween event,” Dr. Carlson said. “I also love the fact that doing something outside allowed us to gather in a way we haven’t been able to do in almost two years–it was so good to chat with students on the department porch afterwards. I hope it becomes an annual tradition.”  

It seems Sigma Tau Delta is back in full swing and has more exciting events to come this year.