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Cocoa and Carols brings holiday cheer, music to campus

In an effort to reign in the holiday season, Oklahoma Christian University’s 41st Annual Cocoa and Carols took place Nov. 30 in Hardeman Auditorium with performances by the different musicians and choirs on campus.

Oklahoma Christian students, staff and alumni celebrated the annual event by listening to seasonal music provided by the Steel Drum Ensemble, as well as Christmas selections by the choirs, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band.

Senior Collyn Lee performers in the Chamber Singers and has been involved with Cocoa and Carols since his freshman year at Oklahoma Christian. Lee said the annual event is one, which not only brings people together, but is also a time to spread Christmas cheer.

“This will be my fourth time being involved in Cocoa and Carols,” Lee said. “My favorite part about Cocoa and Carols is when we finally get to the end of the program and everyone in Hardeman is collectively singing ‘White Christmas’ while ‘snow’ falls from the ceiling. It never fails at presenting an extremely fun, interactive and communal vibe.”

Professor of Music Heath Jones directed the jazz band for Cocoa and Carols. Jones has been a part of the event for 24 years; six years as a student at Oklahoma Christian and 18 years teaching music at the university.

“I went here for six years,” Jones said. “They finally asked why I wouldn’t leave and I said, ‘Because I love OC.’ It’s like I’ve been a student now for 24 years. We used to do a full mass with an orchestra and everything and it’s changed over the years. To me, the whole tradition is just OC family. Everybody comes to it and we all enjoy good Christmas music and fellowship. Earlier this week, we had Lighting of the Commons, and, with Cocoa and Carols, everybody is participating in the spirit of Christmas. This week, now, is starting to become really awesome.”

Jones has been a part of the growth and transitions of Cocoa and Carols and has seen the progression of the event to what it is now. Jones said he enjoys this time spent with alumni, students and faculty, all enjoying the holiday spirit.

“To me, the campus just keeps getting better and better,” Jones said. “OC has a lot of great traditions we do that builds a legacy of carrying on what others have done before us. Last year, Dr. Harold Fletcher passed away. He always came to Cocoa and Carols and Kent Adams followed in his footsteps, and I’m hoping to follow in footsteps before me.”

Sophomore Tyler Klaassen has been an audience member at Cocoa and Carols for the past two years and said he enjoys the time away from studying and having the opportunity to support his friends.

“These next couple of weeks as a college student are pretty stressful,” Klaassen said. “As a student, it’s really awesome to have events on campus like Lighting of the Commons and Cocoa and Carols to take a little bit of the stress off. I have a lot of friends who are performers in Cocoa and Carols so it’s cool to be able to support them while sipping on some ‘hotty’ Cocoa.”

Klaassen said he loves the community-wide event where those on campus fill the seats in Hardeman.

“I’m not going to lie,” Klaassen said. “When Elvis walked into the auditorium singing, I about lost it. With every song and performance, I felt like there was a twist that I wasn’t expecting and it really shows the talent of everyone who is performing. I would have to say that singing ‘White Christmas’ with snow falling from the ceiling is a tradition that should continue forever.”

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