Christmas on 5th returns

One of Baylor's most beloved traditions, Christmas on 5th, is returning to campus after COVID forced last year's celebrations to be online. Lariat File photo

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

Christmas on Fifth Street is back on campus after the event was livestreamed last year due to COVID-19.

The event is scheduled for Dec. 2 and will feature live music, holiday-themed activities, local vendors and food trucks. It will culminate in the tree lighting, with a concurrent concert and light, snow and fireworks show putting the “quintessential cap” on the evening.

Matt Burchett, the senior director of Student Activities, said Baylor is excited to bring Christmas on Fifth back to its normal capacity.

“It is the centering of our Christian mission — the celebration of the birth of Christ — and doing so as a family in a really tangible way,” Burchett said. “The epicenter of the event is the celebration of the birth of Christ and how fortunate we are as the Baylor family to be able to do that together in a way that is so vibrant and alive.”

Jordy Dickey, associate director of Student Activities for Student Union, said Christmas on Fifth will feature a mix of familiar and new elements, as well as some that are “a blast from the past.”

Dickey said the Bill Daniel Student Center will feature make-and-take activities where people can make items like tree ornaments, take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, participate in $1 Jingle Bowling and watch a performance from the Baylor Religious Hour of Choir. She also said rooms on the second floor of the SUB will be decked out to look like various scenes from the movie “Elf.”

Outside on Fountain Mall, Dickey said students can expect a petting zoo, face painting, balloon making, character artists, ice skating and carriage rides. She also said there will be a live nativity scene, which is still in need of students to play Mary and Joseph. If this is something you are interested in, email for more information.

Dickey said the big event of the evening is the Kappa Omega Tau (KOT) Christmas tree lighting. This year, Dickey said there will be a new 37-and-a-half-foot tree, complete with 31,000 LED lights.

Coppell junior Tanner Woodby, a member of the Christmas on Fifth planning committee, said KOT is excited to bring people back in person to celebrate the holiday season together.

“What I’m most excited about — and I think what a lot of people are going to enjoy the most — is the light show that goes along with the band,” Woodby said. “We’re going to have lights that are simultaneously linked up to music, the lights and the Christmas tree, along with a fireworks show that happens in the back and a bunch of fake snow that’ll come out of the sky. For a good minute there toward the end, it’s going to be absolute chaos.”

In addition to the many activities and sights that will be at Christmas on Fifth, there will be a number of charitable organizations present. KOT will be supporting Unbound — a local Waco organization that works to stop human sex trafficking — through proceeds from T-shirt sales. Unbound will also be taking donations at the event.

Also present will be Compassion International, an organization that works to lift children out of poverty. Lydia Dickens, a strategic alliances specialist and recent Baylor graduate, said Compassion International will have a booth on the first floor of the SUB where people can make gift donations to people in need.

“We will be using our Christmas gifts catalog, which is full of different opportunities to give gifts to children in poverty and to give gifts that impact their whole family,” Dickens said. “The different gifts are anything from giving care for a medical treatment or planting a fruit tree or having chickens. These are gifts that are going to continue to impact the lives of these children and families. It’s not just one material gift that’s going to fade with time. But these are ways for these children and families to really escape extreme poverty and to generate income for themselves to have and start businesses and to really just see their lives transformed.”

Burchett said the tradition of Christmas on Fifth links many generations of Baylor graduates with current students.

“The Baylor family loves the opportunity to do things that we’ve done for generations,” Burchett said. “Over 50 years now, we have put a Christmas tree in the middle of campus or wandered down Fifth Street in carriages. We’ve done those really significant milestones in a Baylor student’s career that their parents and their grandparents — or the generations that came before — have all done. In a place that is so steeped in tradition like Baylor, it is a moment that connects us generationally and embed within our hearts those memories that will stay with us well beyond our years on campus.”