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KOT Christmas custom celebrates 40th anniversary

Nov. 30, 2005

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Kappa Omega Tau's annual Christmas Tree Lighting celebrates its 40th anniversary on Thursday this year in the Burleson Quadrangle.
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by FRED BUTTACCIO, reporter

One of Baylor's most well-known Christmas traditions will celebrate its 40th anniversary when Kappa Omega Tau launches the holiday season with its annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

The Christmas celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Burleson Quadrangle.

Monk & Neagle, a Christian folk/acoustic band from Amarillo, will kick off the festivities. The traditional telling of the Christmas story and lighting of the tree will follow.

The Christmas story will be read by Neal Jeffrey, associate pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church and former Baylor football player.

The tree is a 25-foot tall cedar and was cut down by the members of KOT at a ranch in Canton last week. Cutting their own tree is just one testimony to KOT members' dedication.

"We start in the spring by booking the bands, then make sure all the accommodations are taken care of. Then we spend much of our time in the fall preparing T-shirts, fliers, and programs for the event," said Bill Walker, an Austin junior and co-Christmas tree lighting chairman.

Shawn McDonald, a Christian singer from Eugene, Ore., and Dave Barnes, a Christian singer from Kosciusko, Miss., will entertain the crowd following the lighting of the tree, and the Annie Moses Band will perform inside the Bill Daniel Student Center.

"We work so hard and care so much about doing this for Baylor. The event is very important to us," said Dillon Meek, a junior from Edna, Texas, and co-Christmas tree lighting chairman.

Along with the concerts and tree lighting, there will be a nativity scene with live animals.

"It's such a great time for all of Baylor to get together and celebrate Christ's birth and to just have a good time," Meek said.

The festival will also feature a range of activities, including horse-drawn hayrides, a holiday arts fair, which includes cookie and ornament decorating, pictures with Santa, and caroling.

There will be cider and hot chocolate to warm up the crowd and vendors with snacks.

"In 1966 KOT was a fairly new club, and we wanted to find projects that would benefit campus," said Dr. Alton Hassell, KOT alumni and sponsor. Hassell is a senior lecturer of chemistry and biochemistry. "We noticed that campus had no Christmas decorations outdoors. We decided to, at least, put up a tree. This tradition is special to me because I helped put up the first KOT Christmas tree, and I am also excited to see how many people are getting involved in Christmas on Fifth Street."

The Christmas Tree Lighting is a free event spreading holiday cheer to students and the surrounding community.

"To see Baylor and the Waco community come together for this Christmas tradition is very rewarding," said Brayson Brooksfield, a junior from Allen, Texas, and co-Christmas Tree Lighting chairman.