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A Christmas Tradition
Community Gathers To Celebrate The Season
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The pre-K group from the Learning Tree Pre-school will once again open the show with two holiday numbers sure to delight the crowd. - photo by Leader File Photo

The city’s downtown trees have been strung with lights, Cowboy Santa has made his ceremonial ride into town and cash registers throughout the city are abuzz with holiday sales. The only thing missing is the music and starting this week the soundtrack of the season has been put into full swing, thanks largely in part to area schools and the Remedy and Friends Christmas performance.

Remedy and Friends Christmas performance will be hosted Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Magnolia Elementary School Auditorium. The performance begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10 for adults; seniors, students and children are $5.

“I’m very excited to see it all come together,” event planner, organizer and originator extraordinaire Barbara Findlay shared.

Findlay first founded the Christmas program in late 2007, with fellow Songbirds Shannon Duncan and the late Heidi Brunk at her side. The program was first billed as The Songbirds and Friends, with the passing of Brunk in 2008 this year’s event has evolved to a new billing of A Remedy and Friends Christmas.

Prior to the first year’s event, Findlay, an avid performer, stated she just wanted to perform during the holidays and thought this type of program was something the town was lacking.

Giving kudos and recognition to existing programs hosted by the schools and the Oakdale Community Band, she then shared she wanted to present something with a little more variety. Proceeds from the event from the start have benefited area elementary schools.

Three years later, aside from the name, little has changed about the program. The line-up of performers is just as strong and the enthusiasm the community has for the annual event seems to be there to support them.

“The last two years we’ve raised $2400 each time,” the organizer said. “This time I have been in touch with Cynthia Hoffman and we would like it to go more toward the music aspect of our elementary schools.”

Among the line-up of performers who will take to the stage, the show will hold to its tradition and open with a performance for the pint size performers of the Learning Tree Pre-school. Close to 50 pre-k vocalists will once again invade the lower portion of the performing area, dressed in their finest and belt out the songs they have worked so hard to master.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the children,” Pre-school Director, Jonyce O’Neill stated of the concert. “We start practicing a month before they are scheduled to sing.”

O’Neill admitted that while some of the children are a bit nervous and more reserved, overall the children are generally excited.

“For the most part, they are really, really excited,” she said. “We have not had an opportunity like this, until Barbara started the Christmas program.”

Also singing the praises of Findlay’s efforts is fellow musician and member of the increasingly popular group Remedy, Greg Rivera.

“I’m not surprised,” Rivera said of the success of the show. “Barbara takes on something and people just follow her.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Rivera said of the annual show. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”

When asked what it was he enjoyed most about the program, Rivera echoed Findlay’s early sentiments.

“I just love to play,” he said. “I love performing.”

For Findlay there are many things that make the evening magic. As she reflects on the evening and all that goes into making it happen, she throws out the names of performers and the unique aspect each of them brings to the holiday show.

“Of course we have our little preschoolers,” she said, “we’ve got to have them. And Mel Sanguinetti adds a lot of humor, he is really an entertainer. Overall it’s just a really great line-up with a little something for everyone.”

The line-up Findlay has in place is sure to put attendees in a holiday spirit. Performers scheduled to take the stage are: Remedy, Dale Himes, Will Taylor, Fred and Kathy Stepp, Rick Jones, Mel Sanguinetti, Jim Ramont, Mel and Perry Keys, the Learning Tree Pre-School and Hutton’s Hamlet.

 “I think sometimes everybody needs a little boost to get them into the spirit,” Findlay pointed out. “We know this works and we know it’s a great kick off for a lot of people to get into the spirit.”

While Findlay’s wish list may appear to be complete, there is one wish she still has yet to fill.

“For me personally I don’t get to see some of these acts until that night and then it’s from behind the curtain so it’s not the same,” she said. “I would love to have someone video tape it for us.”

Tickets may be purchased at Heads Above the Rest, R&T Power Equipment, The Oakdale Leader or by calling 606-7810.

The show is a fun, festive way for performers to say ‘happy holidays’ to the community.

“I just love having it all come together,” Findlay said.