Residents of the Greater Bridgeport area recently enjoyed an afternoon of outdoor holiday music and friendship at Saint Margaret’s Shrine in Bridgeport.
A crowd of roughly 225 local citizens young and old gathered at the picturesque North End venue on Sunday, December 14 for the second annual Community Christmas Carol Sing-Along. The event was sponsored by B.A.C.I.O., Inc., Circolo Sportivo and Saint Margaret’s Parish. An indoor reception followed across the street from the shrine.
Children also participated, joining the singers and adding their voices to the popular songs. About half-way through the afternoon, as if by miracle, a jolly visitor with a long white beard and a red and white suit arrived from the North Pole, much to the kids’ delight. Coincidentally (or maybe not), “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was being sung at the time!
B.A.C.I.O., an acronym for Bridgeport Area Cultural Italian Organization, is headed by the Park City’s former Mayor Leonard Paoletta, who greeted the crowd early on, followed by current Mayor Bill Finch and Trumbull First Selectman Ray Baldwin.
The entire Greater Bridgeport area was well-represented by volunteer singers from Bridgeport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Monroe, Stratford, Milford and Weston. Their conductor (also this writer) is a Fairfield native and UB Music graduate.
Musical selections ranged from “The Star-Spangled Banner” to seasonal carols like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and popular songs such as “Frosty the Snowman.” The chorus was accompanied by a brass quintet consisting of top-notch juniors and seniors from Fairfield Ludlowe High School. Bridgeport’s legendary baritone Benny Rae, a soloist at the 2007 event, was in attendance, acknowledged and greeted with fervent applause.
The religious community was represented by two local Catholic clergymen. Reverend Alfonso Picone, pastor of Saint Margaret’s and Saint Raphael’s parishes, spoke of the ongoing work which will eventually transform the shrine into a major destination point. Reverend Norman Guilbert, a former musician and soon-to-be pastor of Bridgeport’s Saint Patrick’s Church, spoke on the importance of community activities and the need for all those of faith to join in this event and similar ones.
Mr. Paoletta is to be commended for his efforts in originating and sponsoring the afternoon. The Bridgeport Sing-Along will continue on an annual basis, and likely grow in size and stature, possibly rivaling the long-standing Mystic, CT Annual Sing-Along, which is scheduled for Sunday, December 21. (The respective organizers have agreed never to use the same date.)
Readers interested in participating in future sing-alongs (singers, instrumentalists, same-day help and sponsorships) should contact the undersigned or reach Len Paoletta via the BACIO website www.bacioinc.com.
This writer thanks all those who contributed their time and efforts in making the holiday season a more joyous one.