August Town CDC revives Christmas carolling
It was 5:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, and most of August Town was asleep, but its slumber was about to be disturbed by the loud and joyous carolling of the August Town Community Development Council.
For the last seven days, the group has been assembling at Bryce Hill Square in the community before sunrise with one mission: to spread the ebullience of the season to all the areas in the St Andrew community. On Sunday morning, the communities of Hermitage and Angola were scoped out as targets, and with a boom box in hand, and oodles of Christmas cheer, the group set out.
Starting the carolling, or rather singing along to Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy, they warmed their way up to the more popular classics such as Long Time Ago in Bethlehem, Santa Clause, Have You Ever Been to the Ghetto? and Do you Hear what I Hear?
And as they walked through the community, shouting “Wake up!”, community members responded and greeted them enthusiastically with a “Merry Christmas!”, hugs, and handshakes.
What started as nostalgic reminiscing from some of the council’s members has now become a three-year tradition for the group, which is now intent on reviving the dying Christmas charm.
“We have decided that we’re going to bring back that love and that unity, especially due to the course of how our place has been - ups and down and topsy turvy. We feel like we can bring joy and a smile to people’s faces and let them think on another level,” council member and chief organiser of the initiative Garfield ‘Chris’ Thomas told The Gleaner.
Thomas said the group is encouraged by the positive responses from residents, especially the children, who he said would run outside to look.
“You would be surprised how many people seh, ‘Bwoy, unno a mad people, but unno mek wi day’,” he said. “Cause wi nuh business, wi a come out and mek noise and who nuh wah wake up wi a guh wake dem up.”
Occasionally stopping to dance or engage in banter about the recently concluded World Cup, Thomas explained that it was Christmas carolling “with a twist”.
“We appreciate it and we love it. Iit put a smile on wi face. I wish more cudda come out. You can feel the love. Mi wish wi cudda stay suh and everybody wudda come out like this,” Angela Maize, a resident of Angola said.
Adding that this was her first time experiencing it as often, she has gone to work by the time they pass, Maize said the carolling has definitely lifted her Christmas spirit.
EXPAND TO GIFT GIVING
Marcia Codoza is visiting the community for the holidays and told The Gleaner that it was a joy seeing the group passing by her house. The 54-year-old nurse who now resides in Philadelphia said she is doing her part to spread the Christmas cheer by donating poultry to the most vulnerable in the community.
“It’s Christmas time, and I come in the community, and I give back because I remember where I was coming from. Christmas time I never used to have a piece of chicken,” she said.
Even though she said she makes a habit of giving back to her community, Codoza shared that it feels extra special on Christmas Day.
“I brought 100 toys - 100 boy toys and 100 girl toys. I want to walk around and give a little boy or a little girl just a gift because not everybody have money to buy for their kids,” she said.
Community advocate and member of the August Town Community Development Council Kenneth Wilson is hoping that the Christmas carolling will expand to include gift giving as well.
“Next year we want to plan to have it much bigger next year. We want to get more people out. We’re going to be writing to the churches and get more churches involved,” he said.
Arguing that this is the best way to get up on Christmas morning, Wilson said stakeholders should not underestimate the impact this dying tradition can have on the mood of the community.
“It bring a connectivity, it bring love, it brings good vibes, and it’s the festive season, so we want to maintain that kind of spirit across the community,” he said.