Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-28-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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THE VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | NOVEMBER 28-DECEMBER 4, 2018 CHRISTMAS IN THE VALLEY 2018 7 A-caroling we go Local groups keep tradition alive in the Blackstone Valley For many, Christmas caroling is an essen- tial part of the holiday season. Iconic movie scenes show carolers going door-to-door as the snow falls lightly around them, and mem- bers of older generations recall stories of walk- ing through the cold to be received warmly with gifts of eggnog and cookies. Still, for many neighborhoods, the tradi- tion has waned as busy schedules, changing attitudes and new holiday traditions have taken priority over the years. Paula Ryan, a Blackstone resident and longtime music director at St. Theresa's Church, recalled first taking the parish's children's choir caroling around the neighborhood in the late 1980s, when the practice, she said, wasn't considered odd. Now, 30 years later, many are impressed the children's choir keeps up with the tradi- tion, though their regulars have come to expect the joyful songs on the Sunday before Christmas every year. "A lot of the elderly in our neighborhood, they love it," said Ryan. "They're just so appreciative. They bake things for us because we put it in the bulletin that we're coming." While Ryan admits parents today have more safety concerns than they did in years past, her carolers, she said, don't encounter many strangers because most of the neighbor- hood residents are parishioners at the church. Instead, they worry about the weather, which can be difficult to predict in December. Some years, chaperones have run out to buy cold soda for the carolers because it's too warm to drink hot chocolate. Other years, they've had to cancel because of surprise snowstorms. "In the movies, it's always snowing. In real- ity, it's a logistical nightmare because they're plowing and we don't want to get hit," she said. At St. Agatha's Church in Woonsocket, Melanie Robitaille leads a similar group of carolers in the neighborhood around the church, also home to many parishioners. The group, she said, includes everyone from families to a few "older" people and has been caroling every December for as long as she can remember. "My kids have gone since they were in strollers," she said. "They really love singing for the neighbors. Everyone brings flashlights and I hand out jingle bells and songbooks and we travel around the neighborhood of St. Agatha's Church and have a lot of fun." Along with spreading Christmas cheer, Robitaille, who serves as director of religious By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com LOUISE TETREAULT, lead caroler of the Cumberland-based Very Merry Dickens Carolers, has been leading the group since 2010. In top photo, Members of the VERY MERRY DICKENS CAROLERS perform at Roger Williams Park Zoo in 2015. See CAROLING, Page 8

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