Norfolk Carols to Hold 2nd Annual Holiday Sing

Grace Allen
Community Sing-A-Long Set for December 16th
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

In Basking Ridge, New Jersey, a magical event takes place every Christmas Eve. At 7:30 p.m., church bells ring and residents flock into town and gather on the green. And then, as they have for almost a century, the community sings Christmas carols together. Last year, a local woman decided to recreate this holiday tradition in Norfolk.
Kay Doyle grew up in Basking Ridge, and recalls her hometown’s holiday sing-a-long fondly.
“It was such a special memory growing up there that I wanted to bring it here for my kids, and other kids,” she said.
Doyle discussed the idea with friends, and the enthusiastic response convinced her to launch Norfolk Carols.
She set a date and time, and reached out on social media to get the word out. The response, she says, was overwhelming. Over 200 people showed up for that first caroling on Norfolk’s Town Hill. It had just finished snowing, said Doyle, and the setting was like a winter wonderland.
“It was beautiful because you had the freshly fallen snow, and the Christmas lights were sparkling while everybody was singing and the brass players were playing. I’m actually a little worried now that I’m not going to be able to recreate that magic this year,” she laughed.
This year’s sing-a-long will take place on Saturday, December 16 at 5 p.m. on the Town Hill near the gazebo, with a rain date of December 17.
Last year, carolers could purchase songbooks ahead of time for a nominal fee, but this year Doyle will distribute them for free, as they are in Basking Ridge. Norfolk Carols has partnered with the Norfolk Community League, and NCL will help pay for the books, as well as the police details that night. Local businesses have purchased ad space in the booklets this year, too, which will help defray printing costs.
The free songbook will also be available on Norfolk Carols’ Facebook page.
Doyle says everyone is welcome to join in, especially children and senior citizens. In Basking Ridge, over 1,000 people participate in the holiday sing every year.
“I describe it to people, especially children, that it’s like the end of the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Whos down in Whoville realize the true meaning of Christmas and all come out and sing,” said Doyle. “That clicks with kids, they remember that.”
There will be lead singers, and anyone with a background in any kind of singing—choir, a band--is welcome to join. Doyle said the group realized last year that the sing-a-long would run more smoothly and people would be less inhibited if there were lead singers to direct the crowd.
“We recruited people who could actually sing. I do not include myself in that group,” joked Doyle. “I’m actually the person singing in their car.”
Doyle, who has lived in town for the last 12 years, has heard from Norfolk residents who also grew up in New Jersey and remember the beloved Basking Ridge tradition. She has also learned of former Basking Ridge residents who have moved away and recreated the event in their new towns.
As in the Basking Ridge tradition, several brass musicians accompanied the sing-a-long last year, and Doyle hopes more will participate this year.
The holiday sing is only about 30 minutes so small children won’t get too cold, said Doyle. Flashlights are suggested in order to read the songbooks, which will be handed out that night.
Doyle hopes residents will make time during the busy holiday season to participate in the holiday sing, connect with neighbors and friends, and help Norfolk establish a new tradition.
“It’s quick--get in, have a good time singing,” she said. “Maybe go out afterwards to Cilla’s or somewhere for dinner. It’s a really nice town experience.”
For more information, visit Norfolk Carols on Facebook. To join the lead singing group or participate with the brass section, email [email protected].