What if you held a holiday caroling contest, and only one singing group showed up?
“I’m not really sure how this will work out,” said City of Edmonds Economic Development and Community Services Director Patrick Doherty, who for the past two years has teamed up with the city’s Royce Napolitino to put on the Jingle Those Bells caroling contest. “We put the word out as usual, and as of yesterday only two groups had signed up – and then today one dropped out. I guess we’ll just see who shows up and wing it from there.”
As the clock ticked down to the 6 p.m. Thursday start time, folks began filling up the patio area at Red Twig, which has hosted the invent since its inception in 2017. Taking the bull by the horns (or maybe the reindeer, in this case), Napolitino began passing out booklets with lyrics to traditional holiday songs, and announced that the evening would begin with some sing along.
He started off with the familiar White Christmas, and many in the audience – which had by then swelled to an estimated 50 – joined in, tentatively at first, but the enthusiasm and volume built steadily. And by the end of the song the plaza was filling with holiday energy and the spirit of community. Clearly something special was going on here.
From there on, it was song after song as the crowd continued to swell, drawing in passersby with the spontaneous energy of song and community togetherness. Voices got louder, children danced and warm smiles were everywhere.
After several numbers, Napolitino interrupted the singing to introduce Martha Macabare and Lisa Greeno, the performers who had signed up for the expected contest. They treated attendees to pitch-perfect, two-part harmony with a vocal rendition of What Child is This? followed by Let it Snow.
Then it was kids time, as Napolitino called all children center stage to join him in kids’ holiday classics including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Here Comes Santa Claus.
The evening rounded out with more songs, finally ending with a rousing chorus of We Wish You a Merry Christmas as neighbors exchanged enthusiastic holiday greetings before returning to their homes, bringing along a healthy helping of holiday spirit, Edmonds style.
“We might just have a new tradition here,” smiled Doherty, clearly caught up in the spirit and magic of the evening. “Who’d have thought.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel