Students reflect on Christmas on 5th’s community impact

Story by Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer, Video by Julia Lawrenz | Broadcast Reporter

Every year, the Baylor and Waco communities unite for one of the university’s most cherished traditions- Christmas on Fifth Street.

The festivities last from 5 to 10 p.m., and take place in a variety of locations on Baylor’s campus, including Fountain Mall, Burleson Quadrangle, Traditions Plaza and the Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB). Whether it be food trucks, pictures with Santa or a horse carriage ride, Christmas on Fifth events are geared to students and families alike.

Park City, Utah, junior Abby Powell was involved in organizing and decorating for the event as a member of Union Board, a group that plans activities and events in the SUB. She’s excited about this year’s “Polar Express” theme for the rooms located on the SUB’s second floor.

“Polar Express is definitely one of my favorite Christmas movies and I’m most excited about the room with a cabin lined with trees and snow, because you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland,” Powell said. “I’ve loved my experience this year and am so happy to be able to have an impact on the Baylor community by helping decorate. Last year I dressed up as an elf and was asked to be in people’s photos- it was an overall great experience.”

Powell views Christmas on Fifth as a tradition that makes Baylor unique and brings together a variety of creative elements for an overall exciting atmosphere.

“I think that Christmas on Fifth is a tradition that unites the student body in a way that no other Baylor tradition does,” Powell said. “The lights, the snow and everything that goes into this event makes you feel excited and grateful to be a part of such an amazing tradition.”

Spicewood senior Bradi Zapata is also involved in planning for Christmas on Fifth as a member of Baylor Activities Council (BAC), a group involved in planning the overall event and partnering with organizations like Kappa Omega Tau for the Christmas tree lighting at 8:15 p.m.

“I’ve been in BAC since April and was inspired to join because of the wonderful execution of Christmas on Fifth,” Zapata said. “I’ve gone since my freshman year but last year discovered that BAC helped put on the annual event.”

From face painting to a choir performance to a “Snowzilla” slide, Zapata appreciates Christmas on Fifth as a tradition that includes activities for a variety of audiences.

“Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and when I was a freshman Christmas on Fifth made me feel like Baylor was my home,” Zapata said. “I’m excited for new students to find their place gathered around the gleaming Christmas tree and candy cane lit path by the SUB. The event brings a diverse group of people together to celebrate all the love and traditions Baylor offers.”

Lewisburg, Tenn., senior Ellen Walker has attended several Christmas on Fifth events in the past and appreciates how the tradition prepares the student body for the Christmas season.

“I’ve attended three Christmas on Fifths so far during my time at Baylor,” Walker said. “I’ve always had so much fun and I appreciate how the event is decorated in a unique way each year that brings about the Christmas spirit.”

Navasota sophomore Joleigh Pool recognizes Christmas on Fifth as not only a popular tradition on campus, but also a way for community members to interact and get to know each other better.

“I really love the community aspect of the event- it really brings all the Baylor students together,” Pool said. “Last year’s Christmas on Fifth is where I met a lot of people and solidified a friend group, so that’s a really great memory.”

Apart from just uniting students together, Pool values Christmas on Fifth as a way that allows Baylor to offer an event accessible to Waco families and locals as well.

“It’s amazing that Baylor is a school that offers events catering to both Baylor and the local community,” Pool said. “Christmas on Fifth creates an exciting atmosphere that brings together the two groups.”