BRISTOL - Itâ€™s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as more than 100 people gathered outside Webster Bank for the cityâ€™s 66th annual Carol Sing.
With temperatures in the 40s, it was almost balmy for late November as the carolers gathered outside at Main Street and Riverside Avenue for the event sponsored by the bank and the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.
â€śThe last two years it has rained so we had to have it inside the bank, but this year everything can be outside and Iâ€™m so happy,â€ť said Sheila Kelley, Webster Bank manager, before the event started.
â€śSo tonight is the official kickoff of the holiday season, right here in downtown Bristol, and tonight all of you are the special guests,â€ť said emcee Mary Lynn Gagnon.
Gagnon is executive director of the Bristol Hospital Development Foundation and a popular singer and performer in the community.
â€śI donâ€™t know about all of you but I look forward to this night because it makes you forget weâ€™re all so busy, with the frenzied shopping and with work, and trying to balance our families and sports and everything else. Tonight is all about letting all of that go and just listening to the beautiful Christmas music, listening to the lyrics, and enjoying the holiday season together,â€ť she said.
Gagnon led everyone in three opening numbers, â€śJingle Bells,â€ť â€śLet It Snow,â€ť and â€śUp On The Housetop.â€ť She moved through the crowd, encouraging some impromptu soloists to sing into her microphone.
Then she introduced Theresa Degan, a former member of the St. Joseph Church Children and Youth Choir, who sang Taylor Swiftâ€™s â€śChristmas Must Mean Something More.â€ť
In addition to Kelley, Tim Bergstrom, Webster Bank regional president; Cindy Bombard, president/CEO from the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce; Susan Sadecki, president/CEO of the Main Street Community Foundation; and various city officials and local pageant winners were in attendance.
Kelley also introduced Linda DiMatteo, vice president of events for the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, who has helped her organize the carol sing for the past 10 years. DiMatteo will be retiring Dec. 31.
If Kelley and DiMatteo â€śdid not get together to do this I donâ€™t think this would exist, they have way too much fun putting this on together,â€ť Bombard said. â€śSo to Sheila and to Linda we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for doing all of this.â€ť
After a few more group songs, the St. Joseph Church Children and Youth Choir performed â€śOh Ring Those Christmas Bells!â€ť and â€śA Baby in the Manger, Gloria.â€ť
Everyone joined in on â€śSanta Claus is Coming to Town,â€ť as Santa and Mrs. Claus made their entrance from the bank. â€śI just want to thank everybody for coming down here and greeting me, all the nice people that Iâ€™ve met, and I want to wish everyone a merry, merry Christmas,â€ť Santa said.
The crowd all sang â€śRudolph the Red Nosed Reindeerâ€ť and â€śJingle Bell Rock.â€ť Then Gagnon introduced the Womenâ€™s Chorus, composed of members of the Bristol Chorale, who sang a comic number called â€śChristmas Rush.â€ť
At last, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu arrived from a meeting at City Hall to lead the countdown to flip the switch and light up the big Christmas tree on the corner.
â€śI think this is one of the traditions that many of us remember the most from our childhood, and Iâ€™d like to thank Webster Bank for continuing it. Itâ€™s just a great way to kick off the season and we can focus on across the street, where hopefully by this time next year we will see a whole lot more light there as well,â€ť Zoppo-Sassu added, referring to the Centre Square development happening across from the bank.
A few more classic numbers, including Jena Doolittle performing the Judy Garland classic â€śHave Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,â€ť and the evening finished up with rousing versions of â€śJoy to the Worldâ€ť and â€śGod Bless America.â€ť
Gagnon reminded everyone that the Bristol Chorale will be performing their annual holiday concert with the Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m., at St. Paul Catholic High School. Tickets are available at Shannonâ€™s Jewelers, Michaelâ€™s Jewelers, Simply Hair, or online at www.bristolchorale.org .
She also announced that the 27th annual Childrenâ€™s Holiday Parade will take place Sunday, Dec. 3, starting at 1 p.m. at the Federal Hill Green.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.