COVID won't stop Glen Rock Carolers — but there will be big changes this year
The Glen Rock Carolers have never missed singing Christmas carols in their 173-year history — and the COVID-19 pandemic isn't stopping them this year.
The performance troupe acknowledges some traditions won't be the same this year, as officials tweaked the caroling process to mitigate the spread of the virus.
"We don't want the tradition to end by not going out at all, so we're willing to make some modifications," said Darryl Engler, the Glen Rock Carolers’ music director. "I'm thinking this is the best we can do this year."
Instead of one, large ensemble group traveling throughout Glen Rock borough on Dec. 25, two smaller, mask-wearing groups of 30 will divide the route in half.
The groups also will not make stops throughout the night, as they would have in previous years.
"We're not going to take any stops," Engler said. "With that being said, none of us felt like we could walk for seven hours and sing — that's a little ambitious."
By dividing the route into two groups, the carolers will be able to cover more distance and cut down on time.
Some of the caroling group's older members will have the chance to perform — from a safe distance.
Its oldest member, 97-year-old Paul Shepperd, will be bundled up with blankets in a lawn chair to greet his fellow carolers passing by. Engler said Shepperd plans on singing along for one song in order to participate in this year's festivities.
All participating carolers will be wearing masks throughout the entire night, provided by Glen Rock borough resident Lori Diehl.
Engler said the Glen Rock Carolers did a test run singing with the masks on with success.
The carolers will be singing 15 songs, including classics such as "Silent Night," as well as less traditional carols such as "Ye Faithful."
In past years, many Glen Rock borough residents joined the carolers throughout the streets — often causing large crowds to form. Engler said this year, the performance organization asks residents not to do this.
Instead, residents can greet carolers from their driveways, sidewalks or parked cars along the road.
"We're thinking we'll get a great deal of cooperation from the community," Engler said.
— Reach Tina Locurto at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.