Tunes, tree kick off Christmas

Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer
Spring sophomore Gabrielle Lalou, Houston freshman Katie Pyron and Spring freshman Dani Arrecis enjoy ice skating together Wednesday at Baylor on Ice at Fountain Mall. The event, made possible by using a synthetic rink, is part of Christmas on 5th Street.

By Chris Day

Baylor’s Christmas on 5th Street will feature three major label artists today: Matt Wertz, Phil Wickham and Mandisa Hundley.

Mandisa will perform at 7 p.m. with her band in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. The contemporary Christian and R&B artist was signed to Sparrow Records after gaining fame as a ninth-place finalist in the fifth season of American Idol.

Mandisa said that since her stint with American Idol, things have been better than she expected them to be.

“I thought to myself, ‘Really, is this my life?’ I am very thankful for what the Lord planned for me,” she said.

She describes her sound as having “raging guitars with a funky beat and it talks about Jesus.”

Mandisa said that during her first two albums, she was discovering her sound.

“I can’t really compare my sound to anyone. I have rock influences but I grew up on Jeremy Camp with Whitney Houston,” she said.

Mandisa said she is excited to perform at Baylor as she reflects on her college days. Her backup singer, Laura Cooksey, is a Baylor alumna.

“I remember being in college and having no idea what I was going to do graduating with a career in music,” Mandisa said. “I believe in Matthew 6:33. ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ I am a firm believer that if you seek the Lord he has got a plan for all of us. As long as I direct my attention to him he will direct my path.”

Mandisa will primarily sing Christmas music, but will also include hits from her other two albums.

The concert is part of Cocoa, Cookies and Carols, organized by the Baylor Religious Hour Choir. Tomball senior Ryan Anderson handled all the booking for the event.

“The purpose of the event is to raise awareness for a mission trip,” Anderson said. “This year we will go to Ghana, Africa.”

This year Baylor On Ice, a synthetic ice skating rink, is set up on Fountain Mall. Skating is free from 6 to 7 p.m. today, but costs $5 or a toy donation during the rest of the event. This is the second year the Interfraternity Council has sponsored the event, but this is the first year it has been connected to Christmas on 5th Street.

Kappa Omega Tau fraternity will present the 45th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. KOT recruited musical guests Matt Wertz and Phil Wickham to play on a stage in The Quadrangle next to the Christmas tree.

Kappa Pickers, a vocal ensemble from the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, will also perform.

The lighting of the tree is put together by the fraternity’s Christmas tree chairs, Waco juniors Brennan Bailey and Nick Deaver, Dallas juniors Drew Jolesch and James Blair, Fort Worth junior Layne Hancock and Austin junior Sam Klatt.

File Photo
The Christmas tree is lit at last year’s Christmas on 5th Street celebration.

“Artist selection, their travel cost, transportation, food cost are all done by the six of us,” Bailey said. “Baylor has been very flexible and has made themselves very available. Baylor has no contact with the artist agencies or the Christmas tree company. That’s all done through us. Basically, every year we build the event and approach Baylor and get it approved.”

The event is paid for through personal donations from the student government allocation fund, alumni and active parents as well as other sponsors that the Christmas tree chairs have sought.

The goal of the event is to raise money to donate to the Mocha Club’s education project by selling T-shirts and fleeces. The charity seeks to enhance education in South Africa and Kenya.

“It’s our platform, higher education. We just thought it seemed fitting,” Bailey said.

T-shirts are being sold from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at five locations across campus: the Bill Daniel Student Center, Hankamer School of Business lobby, Penland Residence Hall, Collins Residence Hall and Memorial Residence Hall.

“It’s a great winter tradition,” Bailey said. “It’s neat to sit around a table with five of your best friends and envision what you want a philanthropic event to look like.”

The Christmas tree chairs said the revenue is pivotal.

“For me, the depth and detail we’ve had to go into has been unreal,” Hancock said. “We have several different budget sheets. I feel like the experience of this is so comprehensive that it’s better than any single class project you can do. If it’s a marketing class it’s just marketing or if it’s accounting it focuses on accounting. This is everything.”

Student Activities Board will work with the department of modern foreign languages for a presentation in the Bill Daniel Student Center Bowl, singing Christmas Carols in a variety of foreign languages.

The Marketplace Arts and Crafts Fair will be put on by Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Michael Riemer, the associate director of Student Activities for on-campus programs, described Christmas on 5th Street as one of their major programs of the year.

“I work closely with the Baylor Activities Council, which is the group that is responsible for planning all the Activities for Christmas on 5th,” Riemer said. “They work with several different student organizations. They work with KOT on the tree lighting, BRH on the concert that happens here in Barfield. They work with Delta Sigma Theta sorority on the Marketplace. There’s several different anchor components. There’s the tree lighting and concert, the carols and concert that happens in the Barfield Drawing Room. There’s also the advent services done by Spiritual Life that happen in Armstrong Browning Library and then there’s the Marketplace, which is done on the first floor. It’s all scheduled so that Mandisa will finish before the Christmas tree lighting begins, so that people can go to both.”

Christmas on 5th Street will take place from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. today at Fountain Mall, Burleson Quadrangle, Traditions Plaza and in the Bill Daniel Student Center.