Annual tree farm dazzles during Christmas on Fifth Street

The winning tree included moving trains and golden tickets in honor of "The Polar Express," and was created by the LEAD LLC. Molly Atchison | Editor-in-Chief

Molly Atchison | Editor-in-Chief

Baylor’s campus twinkled with thousands of Christmas lights last night, as students and Waco families enjoyed the annual Christmas on Fifth event. As visitors meandered through Fountain Mall, Vara Martin Daniels Plaza, Burleson Quadrangle and the Bill Daniel Student Center, there were plenty of beautiful sights to be seen. Horse drawn carriages rolling down Fifth Street, the Snow Globe picture area on Fountain Mall, a petting zoo and more were among the activities available, but perhaps one of the most exquisite scenes guests and students could enjoy was the glittering of the Freshman Class Council Christmas Tree Farm.

The farm consisted of 17 uniquely decorated trees following a specific theme, which were entered in a contest and judged according to specific criteria. There are not requirements or restrictions, only that the participants provide decorations for the tree itself and the area below it.

Each tree represented one specific organization on campus, each with a mission and a philanthropy that would benefit from the monetary prize in the contest. According to Beatriz Andaluz Ruiz, coordinator of student organization and leader development, the monetary prize this year is totalled at $500. The two faculty members that judged the competition were Dr. Annie Ginty, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience and Dr. Danielle Young, lecturer of psychology and neuroscience

The winning tree was the LEAD Living Learning Center, which was inspired by the movie “Polar Express.” LEAD representative Lake Worth, Fla. Junior Jayna Atmosfera was part of the team that decorated the winner.

“It was really cool just to see a simple idea come to life, and to just get to decorate the tree with some of the residents and even some people who have graduated from Lead,” Atmosfera said. “… All of Tuesday we hit up Home Depot, Hobby Lobby and Target, and then from there it took us about an hour. The hardest part was putting up the train tracks.”

While some of the trees represented LLC’s, others represented student organizations and Greek Life organizations. One crowd favorites was Zeta Tau Alpha’s “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” tree, which was covered in cut-out pictures of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“I was selected to be in charge of decorating the tree for Zeta because I am the current signs chair (meaning I paint any signs or banners for our events) so I think that since it is a more creativity-heavy position, the tree farm contest is right up my alley,” Southlake junior Kate Johnson said. “I think the contest is a really fun way to get the organizations involved in Christmas on Fifth … this even is a huge Baylor tradition and such a success every year. I love that Student Activities lets us play a role in bringing the Christmas spirit to campus.”

While the tree farm was technically a competition, some of the participants were not in it for the money, but rather as an outlet for their Christmas, and Baylor, spirit.

“Even though the Christmas tree farm is a competition and winning or placing would be really nice, I am more participating just for the fun of it,” Johnson said. “Right now is a stressful time for everyone academically, but Baylor gives up this event to remind us of the joy to be felt around Christmas time, so if I can decorate a Christmas tree in a way that will make someone forget their worries for a night and feel the spirit of Christmas, that is all I could hope to get out of this contest.”

The Christmas tree farm is a tradition that continues every year at Christmas on Fifth as a creative outlet and beautiful display for attendees.

“It’s really fun — it’s exciting and festive and its nice because I’m from Colorado and its nice to have a little bit of Christmas here because the weather obviously doesn’t show it,” Colorado freshman Rebecca Miller said. “The Bear Pit one [tree] was really fun.”

All of the decorations are collected after Christmas on Fifth is over, unless the organization has chosen to donate the ornaments. Donations and trees will go to local Waco families through the Salvation Army.