Will someone please bring these kids some figgy pudding? The Eagle River and Chugiak high-school choirs – also known as the North Area Choral Department – joined forces Saturday afternoon to carol for the shops involved in the Merry Merchant Munch in Eagle River.
Starting with Credit Union 1 and making their way through Jitters, Starbucks, and many more shops, the group of high schoolers sang their way through each store. As they sang, there was an immediate response from the crowd that stopped to listen.
“I see the people’s faces really light up when we sing them carols,” Mikaeala Greenlund, a CHS sophomore, said.
The group was warmly welcomed into each establishment, and their songs ranged from an arrangement of “Jingle Bells”, to a soothing “Night of Silence”.
“My favorite song is ‘Angels We Have Heard on High,’ because it’s familiar and we make it sound so pretty,” Hannah Lowrey, an ERHS junior, said.
The choir also performed non-traditional songs that are gaining popularity as holiday tunes.
“I really enjoy singing “Night of Silence” because it incorporates “Silent Night.” The song is so beautiful, it truly captured the spirit of the holiday,” Maddy Spackman, a CHS senior, said.
As they sang, many people took out their phones and cameras to capture the moment. The crowd seemed mesmerized by the teens’ sound and stage presence.
“I remember a few people that we sang to mentioned how they always love it when we come to sing, and I think it’s just a nice thing to do for the community,” Kami Christensen, a CHS junior, said.
Annual caroling and being a part of the choir family is a big deal to all of these students, who come together as a family to spread the Christmas spirit with the rest of the town.
“This is my first time caroling in the community,” Madison Thomas, an ERHS junior, said. “It really makes it feel like the Christmas season has really started.”
Although both schools high school add new students each other, many high school choir students come back to carol every single year.
“I would say I go every year because I love the atmosphere,” Spackmam said. “It also affects the community. It always feels so nice when you’re able to go into businesses, or buildings and be able to put smiles on their faces and brighten the atmosphere of the room to really embrace the Christmas spirit.”
Behind all of the perfectly timed notes and tuning are hours of in-class practice.
“Our choirs work very hard every day on music in class,” Spackman said. “We are always striving to be proactive and get the most out of every rehearsal. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it in the end.”
CHS and ERHS choir students rarely get to rehearse together, given that they sing at different schools, and thus, students from the two schools had to work together “on the scene” to blend their sounds. Their ability to make the sound harmonious is a tribute to training their instructors have given them and to their professional presentation.
“I think it’s cool to get to work with the Eagle River students,” Christensen said. “I don’t know too many of them well, but I have gotten to know them from our choir; doing things together where I wouldn’t have met at any of them otherwise. It’s a really good thing that we get to meet new people a bit and sing and performing together.”
Spackman too noted how well singers from both choirs blended their voices considering the little time they had worked together previously.
“We never get to work with the Eagle River students, and when we do we come together and it takes a lot of determination to make our sounds blend the right way. Ultimately it makes us a better choir,” Spackman said.
In the spirit of Christmas, caroling has brought not only the community closer together, but also the students that partake in the caroling. Caroling around town for the Merry Merchant Munch will continue to be a North Area Choir tradition for generations to come as it has been for the nearly three decades that the MMM has been in existence.
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Editor’s Note: Alina Cook is a student at Eagle River High School and is an editorial intern with The ECHO News. The choir from Gruening Middle School also performed at Lesley’s Cakes on Sat., Dec. 3, for two hours as a “thank-you,” to the business for the myriad of baked goods donated to the middle school.