by Lisa Tome
There is nothing new scheduled for this year's 44th annual Community Carol Sing.
That's just the way organizers like it.
The event, set for Tuesday, December 2, at 7 p.m. in Rising Sun's Center Square, will feature a tree lighting, singing of carols, Santa, and more.
Following the singing, there will be refreshments and Santa at Janes United Methodist Church. Cub Scout Pack 28 will collect food donations for Ray of Hope Mission.
Time has flown by for song leader Tom Connelly. Connelly estimated that he's been an anchor for the event for a decade. In actuality, he's volunteered for more than two decades. "It all started from Hilltop Ranch (Morning Cheer). Bob from Morning Cheer's nephew George was the song leader. He moved and I was asked to do it," said Connelly. "We stick with the same songs. I try not to change the program. It's a touchstone for the community. It's something you can rely on."
And although not much changes with the sing, Connelly said there will be a new accompanist this year.
Sandy Shorter will now provide the music. Past pianists and organists have been Betty Yerkes and Virginia Hudson. "I look forward to it a lot. I have the best seat in the house. I can see everybody and hear them singing. They are wearing Santa hats and jingle bells. It's fun," said Connelly.
Mayor Travis Marion agrees that the event shouldn't change. A few years ago, he added the lighting of a tree across from the sing. Cherry Grove Tree Farm donates the tree to the town.
"The Carol Sing is one of our hallmark events. It brings together residents and non-residents. They get time to spend together and to socialize," said Mayor Marion.
Police chief Chip Peterson and the Rising Sun police officers have an important job at the Carol Sing. Santa arrives in a town police car.
"Security is very important. Getting Santa here is just another task. Our officers are used to coordinating things and they make sure Santa is in place on time. They are accustomed to meeting deadlines," said the chief. He also said that the officers provide safety and security during the event and enjoy the community policing aspect. "We show the public we are normal folks with a job to do," said Peterson.
Ann Gibney and Marie Walker don't get to see the singing.
They, as members of the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun Ladies Auxiliary, and members of the Rising Sun Lions, work to warm everyone up.
They serve hot drinks and cookies after the Carol Sing. While the singing is going on, they are working to make preparations at Janes UMC. "We've been doing it for years. We used to do it at the old fire house. And then we did it at Foard's. We've done it at the church for a few years," said Walker.
"I just enjoy seeing all the people come in from the cold. The kids enjoy it and it's just a couple hours once a year," said Walker.