Songs of the sea­son

Ef­fort to re­vive Christ­mas car­ol­ing in Grand Bank off to a good start

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY PAUL HERRIDGE GRAND BANK, N.L. [email protected]­erngazette

It’s a crisp evening in Grand Bank on Nov. 30 and a warmly bun­dled group of peo­ple of all ages are gath­er­ing un­der a street­light in the park­ing lot at the Blue Crest Nurs­ing Home, can­dles in hand wait­ing to be lit.

The crowd grows bit by bit un­til it num­bers the bet­ter part of a hun­dred, al­lay­ing the wor­ries of or­ga­niz­ers who won­dered if any­one would show. There’s a fes­tive feeling in the air and peo­ple are merry and jovial.

Christ­mas car­ol­ing is of­fi­cially back in Grand Bank.

Car­ol­ing tra­di­tion

Many peo­ple of a cer­tain vin­tage will re­mem­ber Christ­mas car­ol­ing as a pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity in Grand Bank years ago be­fore it even­tu­ally faded.

The Sal­va­tion Army Band, in par­tic­u­lar, would make the rounds, fill­ing the air with the sounds of the sea­son.

Ge­orge Cor­nish, who grew up in the town, re­mem­bers it.

He came up with the idea to bring car­ol­ing back and brought it to his col­leagues in the newly formed Grand Bank Hos­pi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion. The in­clu­sion of can­dles served as a memo­rial to loved ones who have passed on, he ex­plained.

Cor­nish re­cently moved back to Grand Bank and pur­chased the his­toric Thorndyke bed and break­fast.

He was in­volved in start­ing a sim­i­lar event some 30 years ago in Ni­a­gara-on-theLake, in On­tario, where he pre­vi­ously lived, he told The South­ern Gazette.

“(Car­ol­ing is) an old tra­di­tion here in Grand Bank. It’s been around for­ever. A lot of it was done through the churches, and dif­fer­ent groups through the churches. That’s why I thought it would be a great suc­cess here,” Cor­nish said.

‘Won­der­ful’

The car­ol­ers fin­ish their first songs, in­clud­ing a ren­di­tion of the now 200-year-old

for se­niors in­side the nurs­ing home and ju­bi­lantly stroll down Hick­man Street to their next des­ti­na­tion. They’re called to come over. Henry Lee and his wife Ge­orgie are bun­dled up in their wheel­chairs on their step. The el­derly cou­ple have made a spe­cial ef­fort to see the car­ol­ers.

“I spent all my life play­ing carols in the Sal­va­tion Army Band, ev­ery Christ­mas,” 91-year-old Henry tells The South­ern Gazette.

He’s thrilled to see peo­ple car­ol­ing again. “Yes, I en­joyed it,” he said. “Won­der­ful.”

Mis­sion ac­com­plished.

PAUL HERRIDGE – THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

The evening came to an end with some carols in the gazebo at the com­mu­nity park.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF GE­ORGE BEN­NETT

Car­ol­ers stopped at the his­toric Thorndyke for a cup of hot cho­co­late and to sing an­other song.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF GE­ORGE BEN­NETT

Af­ter vis­it­ing the Blue Crest Nurs­ing Home, car­ol­ers hit the street with their can­dles.

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