On Dec. 21, 25 community members gathered at the Community Arts Information Office (149 College Ave., Blacksburg) wearing Santa hats, antlers and jingle bells.
After introductions and a quick run through a few of the “trickier” verses, the group proceeded to wander ‘round downtown businesses spreading joy with Christmas carols and holiday songs.
The mob was responding to a Facebook invitation from Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. Director, Laureen Blakemore, asking that everyone interested in caroling ‘round the downtown turn up at 1 p.m. at her office inside the CAIO.
Laureen came up with the idea last December when she threw out a Facebook post that resulted in 15 community members turning up the next day to sing around the businesses.
“I never expected so many to turn up, I honestly thought maybe five or six people would show, but clearly there are many of us out there who love to sing!” Blakemore said.
The group apparently had so much fun last year, and was so well received by the local businesses and customers that they asked to make caroling an annual event. In November, a date was picked which worked for returning singers and word spread.
Twenty-five singers turned up on the day with many more sending apologies and regrets that they would miss the fun. The group consisted of community members of all ages from age 3- 83 and everything in between.
“Caroling is one of the single best ways to share the Christmas spirit!” returning participant, Gail Billingsley said.
Newcomer Asha Mills brought her two sons Knox, who is five years old, and Corin who is three, to join the fun.
The boys already knew the words to “Good King Wenceslas and couldn’t wait to sing their favorite carol.
“I am so thankful to Laureen for organizing this event. This was our first time and caroling around downtown was one of my family’s favorite Christmas activities this year. We hope to make it a new tradition!” said Asha of the downtown singing.
The Downtown Singers visited Gillie’s, t.r. collection, Fringe Benefit, Matrix Gallery, National Bank of Blacksburg, Capone’s Jewelry, Main Street Pharmacy, the Blacksburg Tavern (opening soon), Wells Fargo, Kent Jewelers, Tech Bookstore and Main Street Inn where they were treated to hot cocoa and cookies by the fire to complete the experience.
The group also sang as they walked along the streets, eliciting joy and cheers from drivers and passersby as they went.
“We gained more singers this year, and were fortunate to have a day of very nice weather for our walk around downtown,” returning participant, Peg Fisher said.
The singers were creative in their approach. If a store was too small, such as Matrix Gallery or t.r. collection, to accommodate the mob, they just held the door open and serenaded customers and staff from the sidewalk.
The Blacksburg Tavern is not yet open, so the group sang on the front porch to passersby and enjoyed hearing drivers and their passengers joining in as they waited at the traffic light.
“That was a real fun event at Downtown Caroling, and everyone we met seemed to love our renditions!” returning participant, Eileen Hallenbeck said
The Downtown Singers are already thinking about their next debut.
Maybe Christmas in July.
“You just never know when we might turn up to sing…there’s always something fun and wonderful happening downtown!” Blakemore said.
For information about caroling, contact Laureen Blakemore at Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. at 951-0454 or visit www.downtownblacksburg.com