I am lucky to have this annual gig for the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Allentown. But I dread it as well. It’s usually close to freezing and, if there’s any wind, it’s a really tough gig on several levels. My naked fingers chill, my music stand tips over in the wind and I’m playing in Allentown. Tonight was a good night, though.

I’m hired to play some holiday tunes and emcee the event in the PP&L Plaza in a community band shell. The folks are there to see Santa and pick some free Toys for Tots gifts for their kids. The Allentown Chamber also invites a couple brave high school bands to play, a local dance troop and a local church’s music group. I play a few songs to start out and a short set when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive via firetruck and mingle. The Mayor comes up and counts down from ten and the tree lights up.

Considering recent years (the former mayor is now in jail) this moved like a Swiss watch. I only had two short sets to do and we finished early. I didn’t have to do longer sets. I still had to deal with the wind, music stand problems and frozen fingers, but my musical performance chores were short. Alleluia.

A big tip o’ the hat to the high school musicians who had to do half hour sets in these conditions, especially the tuba players. Cold fingers, lips and scattered song sheets. I know the two band leaders and I think it’s amazing to see them get these kids to play and own their identity as a band, especially in brutal conditions like this. They kicked ass.

I had a bizarre moment near the end when my new grandson’s grandmother (and her daughter) showed up by the side of the stage. They saw on FB that I was playing here and drove in from Patterson, NJ to see me, not knowing I had a minor set at 4 pm. It was one of those “what are you doing here?” moments. I’m sorry they traveled all that way for a hug.

Anyway, I survived without too much suffering (not counting the pre-gig conniptions) and get to put a good check in the bank tomorrow.