Christmas on Fifth Street Welcomes Thousands to Campus
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Baylor University hosted one of its most popular holiday events - Christmas on Fifth Street - which brought more than 8,000 people to the Baylor campus Dec. 2 to celebrate the Christmas season.
The annual event included a live nativity scene, musical performances, carriage rides, a petting zoo, pictures with Santa and the 45th annual Kappa Omega Tau Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Presented by the Baylor Activities Council, department of student activities, Kappa Omega Tau Fraternity (KOT), Baylor Religious Hour Choir (BRH) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, this year's event also included ice skating on Fountain Mall and caroling by the Baylor department of modern foreign languages, as well as a performance by Mandisa, ninth-place finalist in the fifth season of American Idol.
"We were pleased with the attendance and the way the event unfolded," said Michael Riemer, Baylor associate director of student activities. "We offered some new things that we've not offered in the past."
American Idol Contestant Performs with BRH
Mandisa performed with her band as a part of the Baylor Religious Hour Choir's concert "Cocoa, Cookies and Carols." BRH joined Mandisa to perform "Drummer Boy" and "Children Go Where I Send Thee."
"Performing with Mandisa can only be described as electric," said Ryan Anderson, Baylor senior and program coordinator for the BRH concert. "The energy she brought to the stage was contagious and it was hard for anyone in the audience to even sit down."
Anderson said planning for the concert started in March and the choir knew they wanted to perform with an artist. Ultimately, all of the right doors opened for them to perform with Mandisa.
"Singing with her will probably go into my top three memories of being a Baylor student," Anderson said. "Mandisa loves the Lord and her spirit and encouragement was something the choir will not quickly forget."
The purpose of the concert was to raise awareness of BRH's international mission trip to Ghana, where the choir will be working with the ministry OneWay, singing at churches schools and hospitals, Anderson said.
Other Christmas on Fifth Street performers included The Kappa Pickers, Scott & Clare, Columbus Avenue Baptist Church Handbells, Phil Wickham and Matt Wertz.
Tree lighting ceremony benefits charity
KOT also used Christmas on Fifth Street to do good in the world, with proceeds from the 45th annual KOT Christmas Tree Lighting going to charity.
"It's a charity event, a philanthropic event," said Brennan Bailey, Baylor junior and chair of the KOT Christmas Tree Lighting. "Our goal is to donate money to the Mocha Club, the charity we've partnered with this year and last year."
Support from sponsors and proceeds from t-shirt sales, as well as donations from current KOT parents and alumni, will benefit the Mocha Club's education project, which funds job training centers in schools in Kenya and South Africa.
This year's Christmas tree lighting was planned by six KOT Christmas Tree chairs: Bailey and Baylor juniors James Blair, Nick Deaver, Layne Hancock, Drew Jolesch and Sam Klatt.
"It's sitting around the table with five of your best friends for three-quarters of the year and building an event to your exact specifications," Bailey said.
The group was responsible for every aspect of the event, including lighting a 35-foot tall tree freighted in from Wisconsin that required a hundred boxes of Christmas tree lights and its own generator, as well as deciding on performance artists, designing shirts and pursuing sponsors.
"I think that things like this, Christmas on Fifth Street, All University Sing, Homecoming--they all just feature everything that's really great about Baylor," Riemer said. "They're all products of students, faculty and staff working hard together."
Endearing event, lots of planning
And working hard is definitely a factor. Planning for the next Christmas on Fifth Street begins the day after the event, and crucial to planning is the Baylor Activities Council, a 12-member student led team, Riemer said.
"This is my first year on the Baylor Activities Council," said Kelsey Parsons, Baylor senior and president of the Baylor Activities Council. "I had no idea what went into [planning Christmas on Fifth Street]. It's been a learning experience."
Events like Christmas on Fifth Street, though, are what endear people to Baylor, Riemer said.
"Programs like these that students experience over the years connects them back to the university and connects them to other alums and to people who will come to Baylor after them," Reimer said.
by Katy McDowall, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805