Baylor Chamber of Commerce prepares annual homecoming festivities

Members of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce hold back the Baylor Line before Baylor football’s 61-58 win over TCU on Oct. 11, 2014 at McLane Stadium. Chamber helps lead chants for the student section during each home football game, along with coordinating the Baylor Line. Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

By Ella Kimberly and Haley Morrison, Reporters

Baylor Chamber of Commerce has been carrying out Baylor tradition since 1919. Although Chambermen help with and organize many activities on campus, Homecoming is their shining moment.

Chamber’s mission is to keep the Baylor spirit alive by preserving traditions such as Homecoming, Family Weekend and Diadeloso. Chamber also ensures that these events meet the needs and standards of the current Baylor community.

“We are very service oriented, but very humble about it,” said San Antonio senior Emily Knaub, the Chamber of Commerce History Chair. “We do something very unique.”

In February of 1919 Baylor Business Men’s Club was put together by students hoping to open a business school, according to the Baylor Chamber of Commerce’s website. Knaub said that this group of men petitioned to the president at the time, Samuel Palmer Brooks, to organize this club.

“A year later in 1920 it was changed to Baylor Chamber of Commerce. We had ties to actual Chambers of Commerce in Texas, East Texas and Waco,” Knaub said. “We don’t have those affiliations anymore, over time they just kind of dwindled away.”

Homecoming became Chamber’s responsibility in 1937.

“Homecoming is by far the best time to showcase Baylor in all of its glory while promoting a future existence,” Knaub said. “We put our heart and soul into everything we do, but I think even more so with Homecoming, because we want everybody – alumni, students and future students to really understand what Baylor is, what we stand for, and what we’ve been.”

Homecoming is Chamber’s biggest event of of the year and perhaps what they are most well known for.

“Chamber does the planning and orchestrating the little events that go into the big thing. We work with Student Activities and [Baylor] marketing,” San Antonio senior and Chamber President Annelise Ingram, said.

Homecoming events start Thursday, but it is Chamber’s job to get students excited before the celebration begins. This includes taking over chapel on Wednesday to promote the day and surrounding events.

Chamber also helps with ticket sales for Pigskin and is in charge of Freshman Mass Meeting and Queen and Her Court.

“We are in charge of getting the judges, solidifying the entries, and then doing the whole ceremony,” Knaub said.

The events continue with Friday Night Flash Back. According to Knaub, this occasion allows Chamber members to contribute pieces to the showcase.

“The SUB gets turned into a mini museum of past history, and the Texas Collection opens up a lot of their collection to us so we can showcase it,” Knaub said.

Friday’s festivities continue with the Extravaganza and Bonfire, which is Ingram’s favorite part of Homecoming.

“We get to just watch the fire, see people out there, make sure people don’t hurt themselves with the fire. That’s a good moment for us,” Ingram said.

When Bonfire ends, Chamber’s day begins.

“We finish up with Bonfire at 2 o’clock in the morning and then we have to get at a central location at 3 a.m. and before we come back on campus or downtown, wherever our assigned roles are and we set up until about 5 a.m. That’s when the entries start showing up and the parade starts at 8 a.m.,” Knaub said.

For Knaub, one of the best parts of Homecoming is seeing the freshmen run the Baylor Line.

“To see the excitement and smiles on students faces right before they run the Baylor Line, they are so exicted for Homecoming, maybe their first time running it, it is just so great,” Knaub said. “I love when we have the exclamation point done, and it’s like ‘we did it!’; we finished it; we completed it; we did our best.

“It’s really cliché, but its everything that makes it worth it for me.”

As Chamber nears its 100 year anniversary, Chambermen have high expectations for the future. Ingram said outreach and working with other organizations are priorities.

Knaub also hopes to see Chamber doing even more for the university.

“I really hope to see it continue to be as service oriented as possible,” Knaub said. “Chamber is a great organization and it will continue to be great, but each one of us the reason we are in Chamber is because the first thing we want to do is serve. Whether that be a fellow man, a fellow student, [or] a faculty member. We are really driven to do something bigger than ourselves.”