Thousands of students, community members, alumni and more gathered near Memorial Circle on Tuesday evening to watch, as with a flick of a switch, more than 25,000 lights lit up during the 61st Annual Carol of Lights.
The Carol of Lights is a Texas Tech tradition dating back to 1959, Christopher Allen, president of Residence Halls Association and a senior human sciences major from Houston, said in an interview prior to the event. It began with a group of students including Bill Dean, now an associate professor in the Tech College of Media & Communication.
Over the past 61 years, the event has grown in scale into what it is today, Allen said.
“[The Carol of the Lights] is a Red Raider tradition,” Allen said. “That feeling of like coming together as a community, both Lubbock, Texas Tech, all of that, just being with Red Raiders both near and far and always remembering the heart of the holidays.”
This year’s event began at 7:00 p.m. with a Torch Light Processional featuring the Saddle Tramps, High Riders and Masked Rider marching from the Seal to the Science Quadrangle. Subsequently, Allen welcomed those attending and introduced the theme, “The Night of 20,000 Lights.”
Following a performance of “Come all Ye Faithful” by the University Combined Choirs, Allen introduced Tech President Lawrence Schovanec.
“What a beautiful evening it is to be together to celebrate this cherished university tradition, a tradition that reflects on the special culture that is part of the Texas Tech family, a tradition that brings the university community together with our friends from Lubbock and the surrounding areas,” Schovanec said to the crowd.
Schovanec went on to acknowledge those who helped put together the event, specially recognizing the many student organizations involved.
“As this evening comes to a close, let us be thankful for each other and all the blessing we have received,” he said. “During this Christmas and holiday season, Patty (Schovanec) and I wish each of you and your families the gifts of love, peace and joy.”
Rebecca Wascoe Hays, assistant professor in the Tech School of Music, then performed “O Holy Night.”
Later during the event, Allen recognized the student organizations involved, including Alpa Phi Omega, Chi Rho, High Riders, the Masked Rider, Raiders Helping Others, Raider Red, the Saddle Tramps, the Silent Raiders and the Women’s Service Organization. He also acknowledged local businesses who were involved, as well as the 2019 Carol of the Lights Committee.
“Once again, thank you to everyone who has contributed to making the 61st Annual Carol of the Lights a success,” Allen said. “As we reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, it is time to join the combined choirs in singing ‘Silent Night.’”
The student committee has 10 members, Allen said. It is partly RHA executive board members. However, any student interested can apply and join for the 2020 Carol of the Lights.
The committee is responsible for choosing the theme based on submissions for an artwork contest open to students, Allen said. Those interested in applying can learn more on the University Housing website.
Following the performance of “Silent Night,” Allen flipped the switch to illuminate the colored lights lining the buildings around the Science Quadrangle, Engineering Quadrangle, the Administration building and more.
Performances of “Joy to the World” and the Matador song concluded the event.
Morgan McLarty, a junior pre-nursing major from Lubbock, said she has attended the event multiple times having grown up in the area.
McLarty's favorite part of the Carol of the Lights is the lighting of the school, she said. The event is an opportunity to get to know the culture of the school and Lubbock.
“I think it just shows our love of the school and the support Texas Tech has from the community here in Lubbock because growing up in Lubbock, there’s not a lot to do, so whenever we can come together like this it’s an amazing thing,” she said.