(VIDEO) Student leaders from numerous organizations work together on Carol of Lights®.
Every December Texas Tech University shines with thousands of lights during the Carol of Lights® ceremony. Behind the scenes, countless hours are put into the planning, setup, execution and cleanup by Texas Tech students for one of its most cherished traditions.
Craig Kuehnert, assistant director of Student Leadership Development in University Student Housing, said approximately 200 students are involved in some capacity with the planning and implementation of Carol of Lights®.
These students are led by the Carol of Lights® committee within the Residence Hall Association. The committee plans and works on the event months in advance and starts planning for the next year soon after it completes the ceremony for the current year.
"The Carol of Lights is a wonderful tradition of Texas Tech University that has been celebrated for decades," Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said. "I look forward to joining with the Texas Tech family and our community at this event which marks the beginning of the holiday season."
Amy Witt, a senior biology major from Sweetwater, is one of those 200 students. As the president of the Women's Service Organization (WSO), she helps build the wreath on display in front of the Science Building.
"It is an honor and blessing for every member of WSO to be a part of such an amazing tradition at Texas Tech," she said. "WSO has been participating in Carol of Lights® for as long as I can remember, and it is something we all look forward to every year."
The organization is more than happy to have a hand in Carol of Lights®. Witt has been part of WSO for four years and has helped build the wreath every year. Traditionally, returning members will pass on their knowledge to new members in the organization. The Carol of Lights® committee and Texas Tech grounds crew also work with the women on preparing and finishing the wreath.
WSO started preparing for Carol of Lights® at the beginning of November and started building the wreath Monday. The entire building process typically takes three days and the wreath is expected to be completed today in preparation of the event on Dec. 2.
Roman Padilla, a senior sociology major from Lubbock and the president of Alpha Phi Omega, is another student who helps with Carol of Lights®. The organization, in conjunction with Chi Ro, lights all of the luminaries around Memorial Circle, the Broadway entrance to campus and the Engineering Key.
"It is very fulfilling getting to be a part every year of such a tradition," he said. "Knowing you are a part of the celebration that so many people come out and see, I can't even explain it."
Padilla received his first email about helping with Carol of Lights® about three months ago. For about a month, the group has been getting the materials and folding the bags for the luminaries.
Whitney Shaffer, a senior biochemistry major from Amarillo, is the president of Raiders Helping Others.
"Our organization assists with some of the behind-the-scenes work when it comes to Carol of Lights®," she said. "We run the lost and found tent, pass out the glow sticks, help with cleanup and other small tasks during the event such as guarding the sound booth or escorting people from one place to the other."
Shaffer said it is amazing to see the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities come together for the event. The smile and excitement on people's faces is rewarding.
"It is eye-opening to me because there is so much preparation that goes into Carol of Lights® and so many people that help in some way or another," she said. "Overall this is something I feel everyone should attend, it really helps to ring in the holiday season."
There are many people across campus involved in making Carol of Lights® successful. Being behind the scenes has opened Shaffer's eyes to how much goes into the event.
"The Residence Halls Association has sponsored Carol of Lights® for 58 years, and student involvement in the coordination of the event remains vital to our operations," Kuehnert said. "Many of the student groups that are involved, like the Saddle Tramps, High Riders and Women's Service Organization, have been connected in the planning process for more than 30 years. Many of the most loved parts of the tradition are possible because of the work of our student groups on campus."
Every year students bring new and creative ideas to Carol of Lights®. Students who are connected with the university by participating in campus traditions are more likely to succeed academically, Kuehnert said.
"The students help us create advertising, facilitate the event and bring holiday cheer to campus," Kuehnert said. "From the vocal performers to the students that help pick up trash after the event, students are critical to the overall success of the Carol of Lights®."