Boots, brollies, baritones take to the streets

James Bay man hopes to create Christmas carolling tradition

Ian Kerr

Ian Kerr

Get ready James Bay, your neighbours are coming a-wassailing.

Grant Kerr and his family moved to Victoria from the Maritimes four years ago, and he found one Christmas tradition lacking.

“When our boys were two and four we would drag them around in sleds over snow banks (carolling),” said Kerr. “I found that we were missing that aspect of Christmas.”

He decided that if he wanted to see groups of carollers out in his neighbourhood, he would have to organize it himself.

“My wife organized a similar carolling outing in our old Victorian neighbourhood back East. She started with a few friends the first year. A few years later, we had about 75 people coming in from all over south western New Brunswick,” said Kerr, who lived in the Maritimes for 13 years.

“It was one big, happy throng. I miss that tradition, so thought I’d get something going here.”

Kerr is organizing a community carolling event in his James Bay neighbourhood on Sunday (Dec. 18), meeting in front of Beckley Farm Lodge, 530 Simcoe St., at 4:30 p.m.

Acknowledging there are plenty of carolling events around Victoria, Kerr said his is a little different than most – it’s outdoors and roving the neighbourhood.

“It’s an all-weather thing. Bring your brolly, bring your rain hat and gumboots, anything you can to stay dry and warm – and your voice works really well when wet,” Kerr said in anticipation of typical West Coast weather.

The carolling group will walk about a kilometre from Beckley Farm Lodge to James Bay United Church where participants will be treated to hot chocolate and cookies.

Don’t worry if you don’t think you can sing, either, just show up and see what happens. “When you’re in a group, it doesn’t matter. The point is to just have fun. Just about anybody can sing. You just have to open your mouth and try,” Kerr said.

Family friendly, Kerr said the event puts a smile on a lot of people’s faces. “Whether you’re singing, or whether we surprise you by showing up and singing in front of your house or apartment building, you never see a grumpy face. It’s all smiles and a lot of fun.”

Carolling books will be supplied but feel free to bring your own.