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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesCAROLERS FILL EMANCIPATION GARDEN WITH SONG

CAROLERS FILL EMANCIPATION GARDEN WITH SONG

It was hard to tell which was brighter, sparkling Emancipation Garden or the voices of 13 choirs ringing out over the waterfront Monday, bringing Christmas morning to life.
Hundreds of folks – families, children and even a few decorated dogs – celebrated the 24th traditional Challenge of the Carols starting at 6 a.m. They stood in the darkness punctuated by brilliant Christmas lights as the choirs marched singing into the garden.
Fred Watts of the singing group, "Harmony Dem'," was enjoying the morning panoply of sound along with his wife, Polly. "We've probably been to eight or 10 of these, and this is better than ever," Fred said. "In fact, the whole downtown looks better than ever this year."
Talking wasn't easy as the choirs took over. The Guardian Angels took the stage. "We're going to try to sing a couple songs we've never sung before," their leader said, "so we're going to mash up 'Oh, Holy Night'." They didn't. It rang out, as did songs from all the other choirs, in near perfect harmony and absolutely perfect joy.
Many of the choirs were just winding down a traditional night of singing. Clarice Kuntz of Voices of Love waited patiently to perform, singing along with the beat.
"We've been up since 9:30 last night," she said. "We do it every year."
The group started at Rudy Krigger's house, Kuntz said, then proceeded to Gwendolyn Harley's, and then . . . Kuntz smiled. "I can't remember."
One of the most colorfully decorated in the audience was "Oreo," Cynthia and Frank Farmer's black and white 6-month-old Shih Tzu, who was wearing a bright red jacket. "We're so embarrassed," Cynthia Farmer said. "He lost his hat."
Small misgiving for the hundreds of people who packed the garden, sitting on the benches, along with every available wall. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull nudged himself early on into a group of people sitting on a garden wall near the bandstand. The governor later took part in the awards ceremonies, but not before relaxing with the music.
Though the caroling tradition fell by the wayside during the war years and after, it was revived about 1970 through the efforts of Dorothy Elskoe, Glenn "Kwabena" Davis and Vernon Finch of the Christmas Card Challenge of Carols planning committee, which sponsors the event each year along with Radio Station WSTA.
Participating choirs this year were the Bethel Baptist Church Choir, CAHS Junior ROTC Chorus, Guardian Angels, DPW Choraliers, Hapless./Hopeless Caroliers, Liston Monsanto and the LSMM, Lucinda Millin Home Chorale, Merry Carolers, Michael J. Kirwan Elementary School Choir, Party Hardy Carolieres, Salvation Army Songsters and Torchbearers, Unlimited Praise and the Voices of Love.
In the presentation of honors, the J. Antonio Jarvis School Choir received the Esther Marks Award, the Caribbean Interdenominational Gospel Choir received the Alex Lloyd Award, Eunice Canton Sprauve received the Luther Robles Award and Ruth Ann Brooks received the Governor's Award for 30 years of faithful service with the Salvation Army. The 87-year old Brooks rewarded the governor and the audience with a lively dance in celebration of her years of loyal service.

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It was hard to tell which was brighter, sparkling Emancipation Garden or the voices of 13 choirs ringing out over the waterfront Monday, bringing Christmas morning to life.
Hundreds of folks – families, children and even a few decorated dogs – celebrated the 24th traditional Challenge of the Carols starting at 6 a.m. They stood in the darkness punctuated by brilliant Christmas lights as the choirs marched singing into the garden.
Fred Watts of the singing group, "Harmony Dem'," was enjoying the morning panoply of sound along with his wife, Polly. "We've probably been to eight or 10 of these, and this is better than ever," Fred said. "In fact, the whole downtown looks better than ever this year."
Talking wasn't easy as the choirs took over. The Guardian Angels took the stage. "We're going to try to sing a couple songs we've never sung before," their leader said, "so we're going to mash up 'Oh, Holy Night'." They didn't. It rang out, as did songs from all the other choirs, in near perfect harmony and absolutely perfect joy.
Many of the choirs were just winding down a traditional night of singing. Clarice Kuntz of Voices of Love waited patiently to perform, singing along with the beat.
"We've been up since 9:30 last night," she said. "We do it every year."
The group started at Rudy Krigger's house, Kuntz said, then proceeded to Gwendolyn Harley's, and then . . . Kuntz smiled. "I can't remember."
One of the most colorfully decorated in the audience was "Oreo," Cynthia and Frank Farmer's black and white 6-month-old Shih Tzu, who was wearing a bright red jacket. "We're so embarrassed," Cynthia Farmer said. "He lost his hat."
Small misgiving for the hundreds of people who packed the garden, sitting on the benches, along with every available wall. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull nudged himself early on into a group of people sitting on a garden wall near the bandstand. The governor later took part in the awards ceremonies, but not before relaxing with the music.
Though the caroling tradition fell by the wayside during the war years and after, it was revived about 1970 through the efforts of Dorothy Elskoe, Glenn "Kwabena" Davis and Vernon Finch of the Christmas Card Challenge of Carols planning committee, which sponsors the event each year along with Radio Station WSTA.
Participating choirs this year were the Bethel Baptist Church Choir, CAHS Junior ROTC Chorus, Guardian Angels, DPW Choraliers, Hapless./Hopeless Caroliers, Liston Monsanto and the LSMM, Lucinda Millin Home Chorale, Merry Carolers, Michael J. Kirwan Elementary School Choir, Party Hardy Carolieres, Salvation Army Songsters and Torchbearers, Unlimited Praise and the Voices of Love.
In the presentation of honors, the J. Antonio Jarvis School Choir received the Esther Marks Award, the Caribbean Interdenominational Gospel Choir received the Alex Lloyd Award, Eunice Canton Sprauve received the Luther Robles Award and Ruth Ann Brooks received the Governor's Award for 30 years of faithful service with the Salvation Army. The 87-year old Brooks rewarded the governor and the audience with a lively dance in celebration of her years of loyal service.