Countdown to Carol of Lights: Saddle Tramps and High Riders Light the Way

Each year the spirit organizations help illuminate the event with torches and candles.

The Saddle Tramps, along with Raider Red, process two by two with flare torches to the math and science quad.

The Saddle Tramps, along with Raider Red, process two by two with flare torches to the math and science quad.

From the very beginning, Texas Tech spirit organizations have been at the center of Carol of Lights.

Saddle Tramps, established 75 years ago, serves primarily to enhance spirit and enthusiasm for men’s athletics. However, every December the Saddle Tramps, led by Raider Red, join the Texas Tech student body and Lubbock community in celebration of lighting the campus.

Beginning at the Texas Tech seal, the Saddle Tramps proceed two by two with flare torches to the math and science quad, which holds the wreath created for the event. Here, the members of Saddle Tramps are met by their sister organization, the High Riders, with candles illuminating the remainder of their path. The march culminates with the arrival of the Masked Rider, behind Saddle Tramps' nearly 60 members.

“We have our flares, and we have two lines that wrap around Memorial Circle as we process up to the front,” said Alex Lake, Saddle Tramps president. “It’s kind of like the Olympic torch where they run it all the way up to the front, and that’s when the Olympic Games start.”

Upon the arrival of the last Saddle Tramp and Masked Rider at the front, the Carol of Lights officially begins.

High Riders, the spirit organization for women’s athletics, joined its brother organization for the Carol of the Lights tradition immediately after its founding in 1976.

Laura Martin, High Riders president, said the organization’s 30 members enjoy serving as the final reception for the Saddle Tramps procession.

“We’re lighting the way for our brother organization in a tradition of spirit at Texas Tech,” Martin said.

Lake and Martin both said their groups feel lucky to be such an integral part of a tradition that not only Texas Tech students and faculty enjoy, but is celebrated by the entire community of Lubbock.

“We’ve always been workforces for the university, and we love to do whatever we are asked to do, whether it’s athletics or not,” Lake said. “It’s really just an honor to do anything, big or small, to support Texas Tech University.”

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Texas Tech will host the 53rd annual Carol of Lights celebration “Light up the Night” on Saturday Dec. 3. The outdoor ceremony, in the Science Quad and Memorial Circle, will begin with carillon at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by the official ceremony at 7 p.m.

The Tech Trombone Choir, directed by Jim Decker, and the Texas Tech University Combined Choir, led by Karl Dent, will play a fanfare and sing. Dent will sing “Silent Night” immediately before the lights are illuminated.

The University Police Department will close off vehicle access to Memorial Circle and the Broadway entrance at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 for the ceremony. Parking in the Quadrangle will also be cleared by 5:30 p.m.

The lights will be turned on from dusk until midnight through Jan. 1, 2012.