Dec. 21, 2003 – Christmas Day will dawn in downtown Charlotte Amalie this year as it has for as far back as many folks can remember — to the traditional sounds of competing and collaborating choirs as they converge on Emancipation Garden for the Challenge of Carols.
Echo-caroling is scheduled to begin at 5:15 a.m., with antiphonal singing by the participating groups as they wend their way from Up Street, Down Street, Garden Street, Government Hill and the waterfront.
The 28th annual "challenge" — each choir seeking to outshine the one before it — is to start at 6 a.m., just as the first rays of light are expected to peep over the hills and along the harbor-front horizon. And then the fun begins, as each group has its few minutes of fame — some singing in solemnity, others doing their utmost to give the early morning audience a good Santa-size ho-ho-ho.
If the ghosts of Christmas past are up and about at that hour, those in attendance may hear a ringing rendition of "I'm Dreaming of a Blue (FEMA) Christmas," or see the Mighty Startover arriving astride a donkey. And, as ever, surely the spirit of the late Dana Orie will be on the move within the ranks of the Party Hardy crew.
As a release from Emancipation Garden Christmas Card Inc., the not-for-profit group sponsoring the event, puts it: While the program will be broadcast live on WSTA Radio for those with reason not to be out and about on Christmas morning, "being right there has greater emotional and sentimental value and will be far more memorable."
Scheduled to take part are the Bethel Baptist Choir, Guardian Angels, Hapless/Hopeless Caroliers, Lucinda Millin Home Chorale, Merry Carolers, Party Hardy Caroliers, Salvation Army Songsters and Torch Bearers, V.I. Boys and Girls Choir, Voices of Love and Unlimited Praise.
There also will be a poetry reading by Louise McSween.
A highlight of each year's program is the honoring of "choirs and individuals who contribute greatly to sharing and bringing the spirit of the season to others." This year's awards and their recipients:
The Esther Marks Award — to Unlimited Praise.
The Alex Lloyd Award — to the St. John Singers.
The Luther Robles Award — to Magdalene Bryan.
The Governor's Award — to Louis Taylor Jr.
Another recognition is that of being named "honorable choirs conductor" — the individual chosen to lead the massed choirs in their final number. That honor this year goes to Leroy Trotman. He'll be conducting "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
For some historical background and coverage of last year's challenge, see "The Challenge of Carols tradition lives on".
For more information, call Glenn "Kwabena" Davis at 774-6361.
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