Upper Carolina residents donned antlers to sing “Jingle Bells,” getting the annual community sing-along underway.
Voices singing Christmas carols and Santa riding in on a fire truck can mean only one thing in Coral Bay — the annual Community Carol Sing and Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Residents of all ages from East End to Mandhal gathered outside of Sputnik’s in Coral Bay for the annual Community Christmas Program on Wednesday, December 15, at 6:30 p.m. Still spry and looking dapper in a bright red shirt, George January lit the tree to get the night underway.
Emcee Joan Thomas introduced each neighborhood and kept the crowd entertained throughout the night with her witty jokes.
St. John residents of all ages enjoyed the Coral Bay sing-along. Seniors from the Adrian Senior Citizens’ Center, above, sang “O Holy Night.”
The entire crowd joined to sing the first carol of the night “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” followed by St. John Montessori School students who sang impressive renditions of holiday favorites “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
Emmaus Moravian Church members offered renditions of several Christmas hymns, followed by Upper Carolina residents decked out in antlers, who sang “Jingle Bells.”
Many Upper Carolina residents came out for the carol sing-along because of one of their neighbors, explained Caroline Rogers.
Carey Mercurio, who has been dealing with serious landslide issues on her property, never thought about missing the annual event, she explained.
“I came out because it’s a great time to get together with our wonderful neighbors and share in the holiday joy,” said Mercurio.
That was all the convincing it took Rogers, a 25-year St. John resident, to attend her first ever community Christmas Program.
“I thought if Carey could make an effort to come out and do this, the least I could do was come down too,” Rogers said.
The annual sing-along in Coral Bay dates back more than 50 years, to a time when residents on the quiet island would gather to bring some Holiday cheer to the neighborhood, explained Edmund Roberts, who gave a short history of the tradition.
Children swarmed Santa Claus after he arrived on the back of a fire truck.
Esteemed educator Guy Benjamin also discussed the history of the event and explained how close neighbors were back in the 1960s.
“If I had sugar and you needed some, I would give it to you,” said Benjamin.
John’s Folly Learning Institute founder Alvis Christian works hard to make sure that neighbors continue to join together in song each Christmas time.
“This is a tradition that was started by the elders many years ago and is what starts the Christmas celebration on the island,” said Christian. “I want to do my part to make sure that this tradition continues.”
For Pam Dolson, who read two passages about the Christmas miracle, it just isn’t Christmas without the annual sing-along.
“This is my Christmas,” said Dolson. “This makes it official for me. Now it’s Christmas.”
Joining the celebration for the first time this year was a group from the Adrian Senior Citizen’s Center, who sang “O Holy Night,” and “The Light of the Lord.”
Neighbors from John’s Folly, Bordeaux and Calabash Boom also took their turns singing Christmas carols. A large group from Skinny Legs, which donated refreshments for the evening, sang “I Saw Three Ships,” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” and “Winter Wonderland.
The whole crowd joined in singing “Joy to the World” and flashing lights from the Coral Bay Fire Station across the streets sent children in a frenzy. Perched on the back of the truck was Santa Claus himself, who handed out donated toys to all of the youngsters and took last minute requests.