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2 0 1 5 T r a d i T i o n s M a g a z i n e 23 Text by patrick dillon { } very year people dress up in jackets, galosh- es, and festive hats. grabbing a thermos of freshly made hot cocoa, they hit the streets on cold winter nights. eir only goal is to give communities a fes- tive moment to experience the time-honored tradi- tion of Christmas caroling. one of the groups keeping this tradition alive is the Mighty oak Barbershop Chorus. is Visa- lia-based group of singers has been giving the gift of song to their community for 35 years. Made up of 30 singers, the chorus brings in vocalists from surrounding towns in Tulare County. Moreover, with the growth of the chorus' noto- riety over the years, singers from outside the county have been joining the group as well. singers now come from Hanford and Lemoore as well as their director adam Kitt who is from Fresno. some singers have stayed with the group from its inception, like Ken Mcnutt. Ken started when he was attending redwood High school and has stayed with the group all of it 35 years. is diverse group of singers brings with them a number musical styles, each with a common goal when it comes to Christmas caroling. "Christmas caroling is to give back to the community," said cur- rent president of the chorus, Fred speckman. "We feel like we have a special relationship with the re- tirement homes, so we voluntarily go to them." even though retirement facilities are a common place for caroling groups to perform, this group is widely known and revered for performing at shows and events around Tulare County. Beginning on the last Tuesday of november and running through the Tuesday before Christmas, this chorus will be busy playing three events a night. some of the venues include Prestige assisted Living, redwood springs, Quail Park retirement Village, e Town Meadow and Hanford Main street Merchants. ey are best known for their classic caroling songs such as "e First noel" and "e secret of Christmas". ey also like to throw in some con- temporary songs like "You're a Mean one Mr. grinch", and "Jingle Bell rock". e Mighty oak Chorus doesn't just limit themselves to the holiday season to bring a smile to those waiting for Christmas carols, they also take their talents into the spring, summer, and fall as well. e Mighty oak Chorus will often make ap- pearances at the Tulare symphony Concert in the Park, the Kings Fair, the springville Concert series, in addition to a number of other events. "We find that we are highly appreciated every- where we perform," said Lee smith, public relations representative of the chorus. "We will actually have people walk around with us." Caroling even attracts people of younger ages like in the case of the sequoia Christian Home educators Chorale, based out of exeter. e singers in this group are homeschooled kids f rom kindergarten all the way up to seniors in high school. now in its seventh year, the group has managed to attract singers f rom all over Tu- lare and Kings counties. "it's one thing that public school kids have that homeschoolers don't get to take advantage of," said the choir's founder/director Chelsea McCaf- ferty. "We wanted to let everyone know that we are Christians and home educators." Coming f rom a homeschooled setting, the choir of 45 singers has its own set of challenges, starting with only being able to practice one hour a week as a group. But they don't allow that to deter them. in fact, sequoia Christian Home ed- ucators Chorale performs in exeter on the first ursday of december, in addition to their regu- lar ministry outreach and visiting local nursing homes in the area. But all of this is warm up for their big show for the California Music educators association (CMea). e CMea attracts many different mu- sical groups, from singers to orchestras, bringing them together in order to showcase their talents. over recent years, the chorale has received an excellent ranking in the CMea shows, which is an honor as they are the only homeschooled group in a competition that is laden with public school choirs. e group has gotten so big that they have actually had to split into two choirs. While kin- dergarten through fourth grade is known as the "Treble Choir," the fifth through twelfth grade group is given the moniker of "Concert Choir." "as Christians we like to do god-honoring music. We like to share our love for Jesus through the music," said McCafferty. Christmas is creeping further and further into the year as Black Friday deals stem all the way into the beginning of november, and department stores begin to put up their decorations as early as oc- tober. retailers play up the need to purchase gifts sooner and sooner, but there is more to Christmas than just the gifts you give and receive. ese gifts may very well end up in a garage sale a year or two down the line, but the gift of caroling is timeless and renewable from season to season. in fact, its timelessness is only rejuvenated as those who have a passion to sing span the ages. is is evidenced by the belting sounds of the Mighty oak Barber- shop Chorus and the crisp tones of the sequoia Christians Home educators Chorale.

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