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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8 CHRISTMAS IN THE VALLEY 2018 NOVEMBER 28-DECEMBER 4, 2018 | THE VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER education and a youth minister for middle and high school youth, said the tradition teaches the parish children how easy it is to bring joy to others. "Those that open their door to our singing are very delighted and happy to see us. Some even join in on the singing," she said. For some, caroling can mean big business as the tradition becomes less common among casual carolers. Louise Tetreault describes herself as "lead caroler/CEO" of the Very Merry Dickens Carolers, a Victorian-themed professional caroling group that rehearses at Four Corners Community Chapel in Cumberland. The carolers, who were founded in 2004 by Robyn Marbenas of Attleboro, Mass., per- form at around 150 Christmas parties, holiday strolls and individual homes every year. Many of their perfor- mances come in the form of "caroling cards" that customers can send to their friends and loved ones to arrive sing- ing on their doorstep. "The closer we get to Christmas, people are thinking, I've got to get somebody something. What can I get that's different and unique?" said Tetreault. When she took charge of the group in 2010, the Very Merry Dickens Carolers had about 16 singers. Since then, the group has grown to 38 sing- ers and fostered two spin-offs, includ- ing a second Victorian-themed group in Boston and the Christmas Present Carolers, an a capella group that offers contemporary renditions of holiday favorites. Some of the singers are pro- fessionals, while others sang in high school or college and perform with the carolers on nights and weekends. The singers begin rehearsing after Labor Day and practice twice a week through Thanksgiving, when the carol- ing season begins. From there, it's a mad dash until New Year's Day, with singers sometimes performing up to eight times a week. The group often performs at shop- ping plazas, where stressed shoppers typically take a few minutes to warm up to the 19th century singers before cracking a smile. But it's not all about the commercial side. The carolers also perform at nonprofit organizations, where they usually donate their time for free. Some of Tetreault's favorite performances are at nursing homes, where the carols evoke memories in patients with Alzheimer's and demen- tia. "We watch the people just come to life and sing with us because it's music they know from their childhoods," she said. They also perform over Skype, using the technology to send carol- ing cards for customers whose family members live in places like California, The CHILDREN'S CHOIR OF ST. TERESA CHURCH in Blackstone has kept the caroling tradition alive since the 1980s, gather- ing every year on the Sunday before Christmas to carol around the neighborhood under the direction of church music director Paula Ryan. Above right, a Blackstone resident opens her door to carolers from the St. Teresa Church children's choir. CAROLING From Page 7 Continues on next page

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