PLATTSBURGH - It's not often singers bill themselves as being "not very good" and still attract crowds, but it does happen - at least in Plattsburgh.
The Santa Night singers will be demonstrating their vocal stylings - or lack thereof - as they take to the streets next Friday, Dec. 12, in support of the Clinton County Christmas Bureau.
Organizer Christopher Huchro said Santa Night is an annual event in which participants raise pledges to be part of a chorus singing Christmas carols and other holiday favorites at various establishments within the city. Each raises $200 to join in the fun, with the successful fundraisers getting the chance to don Santa Claus and elf costumes as they parade about town.
"We travel to about 20 different restaurants and taverns in the Plattsburgh area where we sing Christmas carols very poorly," Huchro said, laughing. "People basically give us money until we leave."
Santa Night started in Burlington in 1998 and is an event Huchro brought to Plattsburgh in 2000. Since then, the event has grown, attracting participants and on-lookers from all over. The event also includes corporate sponsorships, which have grown as well. Last year, the event raised more than $30,000 and gained the support of 20 sponsors - a number Huchro thought would be tough to top this year given the state of the national economy.
"We just assumed it would be difficult to get all 20 back on board, but we've actually picked up a few more and have 25 corporate sponsors this year," he said. "We're really pleased with that."
The support of the event, in turn supports the Christmas Bureau, said Huchro, which provides gifts to underprivileged families at Christmastime. Now is a time when helping the less fortunate is paramount, he said.
"It's more important now than when we started doing Santa Night," said Huchro. "It seems like this year is going to be tougher on people than past years. Now some can't do Christmas presents for their kids. That's why those of us who are involved with Santa Night are really excited to jump in with both feet and make this event an even bigger success."
"There's always a need out there," he added. "I wish that would change but I don't think it ever will."
In addition to participants raising money through pledges and donations, a group of professional musicians and vocalists are also pitching in for the cause. Recently, Santa Night: The Soundtrack, Volume 2, was released with its proceeds also benefitting the Christmas Bureau. The CDs are sold locally for $12 each, and feature holiday performances from some familiar local faces and voices.
"The CDs have been fantastic," said Huchro. "It blows me away, the caliber of talent we have here locally. If people are wondering how they can support Santa Night, make the $12 donation to the Christmas Bureau and walk away with a great piece of local music."
Santa Night will begin next Friday with a get-together for participants at Crazy Horse Saloon on Margaret Street, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Carolers will then visit local "rooftops" such as Arnie's Restaurant and LivinGood's Restaurant, among others. The group is also expected to take part in a tree-lighting ceremony that night at the PARC Oval, located on the grounds of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.
"It's a pretty cool event," Huchro said of Santa Night. "It's the most fun I think anybody could have raising money to help less fortunate families."
Those interested in participating may still be able to join in at the last minute if they can provide pledges toward the event, said Huchro.
For more information, call Huchro at 561-9674 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional details may be found on the event's Web site, www.santanight.com/plattsburghny.