TORREVIEJA’S Inmaculada Church was the centre point for this year’s Christmas Carol Service followed by an International Mass inside the church.
An estimated 2,000 people were in attendance to spend an hour singing Traditional Christmas Carols, a few favourites from Spain and more modern classics such as Feliz Navidad and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.
The majority of those present took the effort to wear something red and white, making this ninth edition of the International Carols in a Square a resounding success.
The master of ceremonies for the evening, as it has always been, was the unstoppable Bill Singleton. He said that the ‘support the event gets, continues to amaze me. I can still remember the first year, in 2002, when there were no more than 50 of us standing on the steps of the church, singing a few carols with our song sheets.”
The Carol service reached its peak in about 2008, when upwards of 3,000 people converged on the Town Centre, and although numbers dropped the following two years, with more than 2,000 in the square on Friday, coupled with the combination of the largest band of musicians and largest Mass Choir in that has ever been in attendance, this year showed a more positive trend towards the future of the event.
As the clock of the Inmaculada struck six, the Phoenix Concert Band, whose numbers where swollen by the brass pieces from Just Brass, played an overture of Christmas tunes to allow everyone to warm up their voices and get into the mood for an hour of singing. Front of stage was a regular participant in the event, Torrevieja’s Mayor Eduardo Dolon, Councillor for Tourism and Culture, Luis Maria Pizana, Councillor for Foreigners, Rosario Martinez, and Councillor for Fiestas and Festivals, Lola Sanchez Roca and Graham Knight, Director of the Foreign Residents Office.
Those members of the evergreen Rascals, who where not singing with the combined choir, ‘worked’ the crowd with their buckets to do a little fundraising and members of the public were invited to offer a few coins for the benefit of the work of ‘Alimentarios Solidarios’ who provide up to 300 cooked meals for those in need, every weekday.
The collection in the buckets this year, despite economic restraints, reached a record amount of €1,519. This money has been handed over to Alimentarios Solidarios to be used to continue their voluntary work in the city.
The combined choir that was assembled for this one-off event numbered more than 100 voices, made up from regular participants from The Rascals, Torrevieja Harmonisers, Cantabile, Crescendo and welcome new additions from the Scandinavian Choir from Club Nordico and the Torrevieja show group, who both thoroughly enjoyed the evnet and pledged their support for next year.
MC Bill Singleton had another trick up his sleeve and put the ‘distinguished guests’ from the Town Hall on the spot by moving a microphone in front of them and referring to them as the Salt City Harmonisers, Torrevieja Harmonisers and others.
As such Eduardo, Lola, Rosario, Graham and Luisima found themselves leading the chorus, when it came to the Spanish song portions of the evening. Before the final Carol of the night, Bill Singleton reminded one and all that 2012 will be the tenth year and a landmark for the event, which he noted came from very humble beginnings and more or less word of mouth, to organise the first event.
He said that he would like to organise something a little different for 2012 and asked those there to help him by submitting their ideas. He was also quick to put Graham Knight on the spot by offering his office as the place where their suggestions could be dropped of! The wonderful evening of Carol singing was followed half an hour later by the International Christmas mass, held in the Inmaculada church.
During the ‘international mass’, the offertory of non-perishable foodstuffs for distribution to the needy at Christmas, was also overwhelming.
The donations from a generous, international community were so numerous that there just wasn’t enough room on the alter for all of it! Because of this, the charity ‘caritas’, who distribute these gifts, needed remove a substantial part of the offering and move them to their premises at the rear of the church, before more offerings could be carried to the alter because there just wasn’t enough room for all of it! Parrish priest, Don. Manuel Martínez Rocamora explained to the congregation the reason why not all of the offertory could be brought to the alter and made a special point of thanking the international community in Torrevieja for this further show of solidarity and generosity.
The offering also included 120 shoe boxes filled with gifts for children, a donation by the congregations of La Siesta church.
By Keith Nicol