Christmas spirit alive in annual caroling in park

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 18, 2000

More than 70 people gathered in Memorial Park Sunday night to sing Christmas carols by candlelight with family and friends.

This year’s event began just before 7 p.m. with the lighting of handheld candles and a prayer by Father Al Camp of St. Mary Minor Basilica.

Carolers, most bundled up in coats, hats and scarves, huddled together in the cold as they sang such carols as &uot;Silent Night,&uot; &uot;Hark! The Herald Angels Sing&uot; and &uot;The First Noel.&uot;

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Curtis Gibson said he and his wife, Mary, joined in the festivities &uot;because of the spirit of Christmas … and to benefit a good cause – the Stewpot.&uot;

Gibson was referring to the fact that participants in the annual event were asked to bring canned goods to benefit the Stewpot.

Organizer Kathy Sizemore started the event four years ago, patterning it after a similar event in her previous home of New Orleans.

&uot;I thought it would just be something nice for the city,&uot;&160;Sizemore said just before the singing started. With the winter weather and candlelight carols, she said, &uot;it just seems like Christmas.&uot;

Marsha Colson walked the two blocks from her home to the park to participate for the first time. In previous years, either the weather or other plans had kept her from the event.

&uot;I just decorated my Christmas tree, and this is something else I&160;can do today to get in the Christmas mood,&uot;&160;Colson said.

&uot;Besides, except for church, it’s not often that people get together and sing like they used to in olden days.&uot;

Cynthia Johnson came to the event in part to alleviate homesickness.

&uot;I was missing home, so I&160;decided to come out,&uot;&160;Johnson said. She explained that she has just moved from Cleveland, Ohio, where candlelight carol singing is an annual occurrence.

Kris Cole, however, had to admit that participating wasn’t his idea.

&uot;The kids wanted to,&uot;&160;he said, rounding up daughter Bailey Cole and two of her friends. &uot;It helps kick off their Christmas season.&uot;