I was pleased to be asked to return to emcee and plays some tunes for the Annual Tree Lighting in Allentown this year. Last year me and my big mouth caused a ruckus when, upon counting down to the big moment, half the lights went on, and with the now deposed mayor with me on stage, I commented something like, “That’s Allentown!” It was my signature sarcastic humor but quite inappropriate and I was asked to apologize. I spent a sleepless night that night. Not a pleasant memory.
With this in mind, I was prepared to be judicious with my comments and, thankfully, the tree lighting went smoothly, though my musical performance so polished.
It was bitterly cold in the plaza, temperatures hovering around freezing but with enough of a wind to suck the warmth from my fingers and to constantly disturb my portfolio of Christmas lyrics on my music stand. (I really can’t remember all these words and multi-verses) I struggled to keep the songs in front of me while fumbling with the chords. I was on ‘muscle memory’. Eventually, when Santa (a black man this time!) arrived by fire truck, I sang Here Comes Santa Claus a cappella (which worked out fine). I was lucky that I was on early with a friendly crowd.
I also got to share the stage with Melvin, the mascot of the LV Phantoms hockey team. He danced. That’s performance points right there. Good mascots are hard to find.
There were a flugel phone ensemble of school district third graders, the William Allen H.S. Brass Band, the Dieruff H.S. Concert Band (with timpanis!) and a local dance group. Each had their own audience and I supplied the introductions. I was amazed at how all the musicians dealt with freezing temperatures. As the feeling in my toes was fading, I was glad to recognize the school band leaders and to be recognized by them. We share a small town fraternity of musicians, all of us finding ways to make a living in the Lehigh Valley.
I headed home exhausted from trying to stay warm for three hours and dealing with the elements, but glad I had the chance to be exhausted… and paid. And I didn’t insult the mayor. Good all around.