By Emma King, Staff Writer
Stress levels are rising for Fort Worth junior Craig Hatch, a member of Baylor’s Kappa Omega Tau (KOT) and one of their Christmas tree chairs.
Hatch and five other KOT brothers began planning in the spring for their Christmas on Fifth tree lighting and concert. Today, they start decorating the 40-foot tree in anticipation for Thursday, when it will be lit up prior to Relient K’s performance in Waco Hall.
“It is a lot to think about for this week, but we all know it’s going to work out and it’s going to be a great event,” Hatch said. “We’re all looking forward to the moment when the concert starts so we can sit back.”
Hatch is especially excited about the concert’s artist this year. He said the Christmas tree chairs did a lot of brainstorming over the summer about who to bring in for the concert and he suggested one of his favorite bands, Relient K.
“I am the biggest Relient K fan ever,” Hatch said. “They were available and they were in our price range.”
Hatch said his brother had been a Christmas tree chair when he attended Baylor and that Hatch had always wanted Relient K to come to Baylor for Christmas on Fifth, thinking that they would be perfect for the occasion.
Hatch and his fellow chairs contacted the band in September, and after a few weeks, they booked them for the show. He said keeping it a secret was the hardest part for him.
Matt Burchett, Baylor’s director of student activities, said hundreds of students picked up their tickets yesterday (the first day they were available). He said he can’t recall the last time so many students picked up tickets for a KOT Christmas concert.
“I am a Relient K fan, I know a lot of people are probably pretty skeptical of it, having not listened to him since middle school, but I think people will get there and end up having a blast,” said Ryan McLoughlin, senior KOT member and former Christmas tree chair.
Burchett said he thinks the most popular response to their Twitter post about Relient K said, “my junior high self thanks you.”
“KOT has done and continues to do an amazing job,” Burchett said.
He said they work hard, stay on top of things and stay organized.
McLoughlin and the other chairs from 2014 spent some time helping Hatch and the current chairs learn who to contact and how to pull off such a large, campus-wide event.
Though KOT is only responsible for the tree, its lighting and the concert, the tree alone cost about $5,400 and was driven in from out of state.
Hatch said Baylor helps fund quite a bit of their event, in addition to donations from sponsors and outside companies.
McLoughlin said planning the tree lighting was a great experience for him in 2014 and that he learned a lot, some of which was passed on to this year’s team.
“We try to do our best to make it as smooth as possible for them,” McLoughlin said. “It’s really cool for them to experience it all…they put in all the work.”
Hatch said he and his fellow chairs weren’t quite sure what to expect when they took their jobs planning the tree lighting, but he said it has been exciting to work through everything together, especially on the fiftieth anniversary of KOT’s first tree lighting.
McLoughlin said that the tree lighting is an event that hasn’t really changed much throughout the last few years. He also said that Christmas on Fifth is a celebration that community members, not just Baylor students, can enjoy.
“What we do with the Christmas tree is only a small part of everything that goes on, it’s cool to see everything else come together,” McLoughlin said.
Christmas on Fifth festivities will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday and the tree will be lit in the Burleson Quadrangle at 8:45 p.m. Relient K and his opener, Andrew Ripp, will begin their concert at 9:45 p.m. in Waco Hall.