A Light In Darkness: YMCA To Hold Its 73rd Carols By Candlelight Event
The long-standing and much anticipated tradition of the YMCA’s Christmas Eve Carols By Candlelight in Victoria Square, is set to bring light and joy to locals and visitors, at the end of a challenging year for all.
This year marks the YMCA’s 73rd year hosting the iconic YMCA Carols by Candlelight event on Christmas Eve. Since 1947 this event has been a celebration of community and togetherness and has continued to run in the face of challenges such as the Christchurch earthquakes, reductions in funding and this year’s COVID-19 effects.
YMCA CEO Josie Ogden Schroeder says the importance of this year’s event goes beyond just celebrating Christmas.
“There is more than usual to celebrate this year as we enjoy Christmas out of lockdown, and feel grateful that we live in Aotearoa New Zealand..
“The ongoing separation of many from their loved ones and the resulting solidarity felt by many during COVID-19 underlines the value of community events such as these. What better way to close a difficult year than standing in celebration with the community who helped us through it.” Said Ogden Schroeder.
The event is held between 9pm and 10pm and attracts families, tourists and everyone in between. It is free to the community who arrive in their thousands with picnic blankets and hampers in hand, to sing carols and celebrate Christmas.
The event runs entirely on volunteers. . Ogden Schroeder says the event is a testament to the generosity of all those involved. “It is demonstrative of the true spirit of Christmas and demonstrates the community support the event has and it’s importance in Christchurch as a traditional family event.”
Conducted by Andrew Withington, the Salvation Army Band will provide the perfect musical accompaniment to the Christchurch adult and children combined choirs, who have been in training for many weeks leading up to this magical evening of Christmas celebration under the leadership and direction of choralist Jean White, and accompanied by the much loved Salvation Army Band. The event receives funding from the Christchurch City Council, Elizabeth Ball Trust, Dave Diggs Foundation, Sheppard Ministries and other smaller donations from the public to pay for the stage, lighting, sound and compliance costs.
Despite the huge changes and adversity of 2020, this event remains a long-standing and much anticipated tradition for many in Christchurch. Traditional carols are interspersed with a few more well known carols for the kids. Candles and carol books are on sale and the thousands of flickering lights on the grass makes for a really magical occasion. People come to join in and sing, or relax back and listen to the performers while soaking in the Christmas Eve atmosphere.
“After the year we have had, everyone will benefit from the light and joy of this night, including Santa, whom we may glimpse with his reindeer up above.” Said Ogden Schroeder.