By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
Plans for a traditional Christmas on Fifth Street tree lighting, with an appearance from the Clauses, are virtual this year as students will be returning home for the semester at Thanksgiving.
The event is planned for Dec. 3, and will be livestreamed by Student Activities and Kappa Omega Tau. The idea is for it to be much like watching the New Year’s special in Rockefeller Center, said Matt Burchett, director of student activities.
“We’ll have a countdown clock, a live host and we’ll do cutaways to some of the experiences that are so meaningful to our students,” Burchett said. “Like a cutaway to a live nativity, or to a carriage ride on campus, or a big Christmas on Fifth ornament. We’ll do all these cutaways in environments that will allow us to bring that tradition home into a virtual environment.”
Houston sophomore Drew Young is one of the event chairs for KOT. Leading up to the tree lighting, Young said they will be hosting the livestream, introducing a few pre-recorded segments. They will include a band, some history and the story behind Christmas on Fifth.
Though some of these segments will be done in advance, Burchett said to expect a lot of it done live on-site that evening.
Just like in previous years, KOT will also be supporting Unbound, a local Waco organization that helps fight against human trafficking. The fraternity will donate the proceeds from Christmas on Fifth shirt sales in the weeks before the event.
“This year, rather than have a Christmas tree lighting with a large crowd, the whole thing will be streamed because of COVID-19 guidelines. Other than not having a crowd, it will be very similar to previous years,” Young said.
The rise in cases that was expected in the winter months has brought it all online, Burchett said.
“I think everyone predicted a modest increase in cases as the winter season came upon us and that has proven to be true,” Burchett said. “So, it’s probably in our best interest to not have people there.”
As for the many Baylor traditions this year done virtually, Burchett said it’s not ideal, but it’s something, which is better than nothing.
“We look forward to the day we can do all these things in person again, all play in the fake snow, enjoy the kind of pageantry around that whole experience,” Burchett said. “The aspiration here is how do we not be stopped. We don’t want to miss a year. There’s such great power in saying even in the midst of a really challenging season we’re able to keep these traditions alive and keep everyone safe while doing so.”