Carolers; COVID edition


Sophie Muir

OHS seniors in their third and final year as Owatonna Carolers pose together in their robes before their recorded performance.

Sophie Muir, Writer

This year in many ways has been unlike any other, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives, including the agenda of the OHS Carolers, a holiday singing group that has been around for over 80 years. Every year the Owatonna Carolers spread the Christmas spirit through traditional songs such as ‘The First Noel’ and ‘Jolly Old St Nicholas’. Beginning with practices in the fall to be prepared for a winter season with around a hundred performances. 

This year, however, OHS Choir director Mr Chris Harris and the Carolers had to get crafty, going about their rehearsals and events. While the 2020 season did start around the same time as it has in the past, it was cut short, lasting until late November rather than ending before Christmas break in December. The only performance that could be managed was a streamed recording by Scott Limberg, of the Carolers on Owatonna Live. A typical year would consist of going out in the community and performing many times over the span of a few weeks in businesses, nursing homes, grocery stores, churches, daycares, schools, events and more around town

There were also major differences in the conduction of rehearsals. A typical season would have in-person auditions, whereas this year, auditions were recorded and submitted individually. Fewer rehearsals were held, about half the songs were practiced, students wore masks and were distanced apart for the entirety of rehearsals. The OHS Carolers faced many obstacles in preparing for their season in the midst of COVID. Mr. Harris said, “Trying to plan for the unknown and having to constantly change plans–how to give the community and the kids a Carolers experience, but ultimately being relegated to not performing in the community at all\.”

As with everyone else this year, the OHS Carolers did what they could to make the best of their season, but of course, many people, especially students involved, are disheartened with this year’s outcome.  OHS senior and caroler Laura Gebur said,There were a lot of things I missed. Not getting to travel anywhere or see anybody at all was sad. I’d thought that we would at least get to perform live with masks or outside since fall sports still happened. I also missed not getting to sing all our songs. I hope that we were still able to spread holiday cheer with our video. Especially in our current circumstances, people need joy more than ever.” That is exactly the purpose of Carolers; to spread joy for the holidays.

The video of the 2020 Carolers performance can be found here: