The holiday season is a time for gathering — and when it comes to gatherings on campus, the Annual Dalhousie Carol Sing is one of the most popular, year after year.
The format for the carol sing may have changed throughout the years but it reliably brings out hundreds faculty, staff, students and their families.
“It’s one of the nicest events of the year,” says Deborah Kiceniuk of the Centre for Learning and Teaching. She attended with several coworkers, some of whom had attended the carol sing before and others, like Suasn Joudry, who hadn’t.
Other newcomers included international students Xiao Liu and Qi Kong from China, who heard about the carol sing by email and decided to come see what it was about, as it was something they’d never experienced before. Then there were those like Fountain School of Performing Arts students Zoe Gotziman, Rebecca Macaulay and Laura MacDonald who were finishing up their semester in the Dalhousie Arts Centre and were happy to have stumbled across the carol sing and join in.
Many of the attendees have made this an annual tradition, including Social Anthropology Professor Lindsay Dubois who brought her mother, Sarah Buchanan. They were the first to arrive and scored front-row seats which gave them a close up view of the All Nations Women’s Drum Group. Seven women from Shubenacadie, Windsor, Chester and Halifax performed three songs, the first of which was a gathering song — an appropriate way to begin the event, given the event was taking place on traditional Mi’kmaq land (as President Richard Florizone, the event’s host, pointed out).
After the drumming and singing from the group, it was time for everyone else to join in — “no lip syncing,” joked President Florizone as he cheerily started the caroling. Led by Jacqueline Warwick, acting director of the Fountain School of Performing Arts (substituting in for Choral Director Christina Murray) together with Charles Mara, a 2011 graduate of the Fountain School, on piano, the sing-alongs began.
The room was full of cheer and music — and the occasional groan-tinged wave of laughter. That sound was largely the product of President Florizone’s comedic material between the songs. “How do snowmen get around? ‘Icycles!’” — and things stayed equally pun-ny from there. (You can see more of his jokes on his Twitter account.) While the crowd groaned and chuckled, one little girl teetered up to the president and told him he was silly.
There were plenty of small children which added to the cheery family atmosphere. Four-year-old Sophia came with her parents and they had been to the carol sing once before with her. Shy at first, Sophia answered with an emphatic “yes!” when asked if she liked the holiday treats. Her favourite song of the afternoon? “Deck the halls fa la la la la,” as she called it.
Three-year-old Ben attended the carol sing with his mom, Christa McDougal, a fourth-year Nursing student. He was dressed with antlers and a red nose, helping everyone feel more festive — a wardrobe even more appropriate when “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became the final song of the event, sung off-book as it wasn’t included in the provided lyric sheet. The spontaneity brought smiles to many faces, especially those of the littlest visitors.
Afterwards, as attendees partook in the provided lunch featuring delicious chowder, student Lui said he enjoyed the afternoon and experiencing a new tradition. Glancing around the carol sing you could see professors, staff, students and children: joining in the singing, enjoying some holiday treats and taking in the spirit of the season.
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