'It's been a humdinger of a year': Carolers gather in Westport to bring holiday cheer

WESTPORT — Spirited sounds filled the parking lot at The Unitarian Church Saturday afternoon when congregants and friends assembled at safe distances to celebrate a little holiday joy by singing carols.

Nate Pawelek, director of faith formation, said congregant Beth Cliff, of Easton, came up with the idea because she thought it would be a great opportunity for holiday togetherness.

“In the spirit of community building, especially in the pandemic, when people are just craving contact with each other,” he said.

More than 50 participants—all in masks—assembled in a large circle in the big parking lot off Lyons Plains Road. Spurred on by a song sheet Cliff created featuring a range of holiday hits—as well as marvelous French horn accompaniment by Pawelek—people happily sang out with the sounds of the season.

“I just think it’s been a humdinger of a year,” Cliff said, noting traditions offer warmth and comfort, as they can symbolize something safe and steadfast for people.

“In my day you always caroled around Christmas time to celebrate the season,” she said, adding it’s something many young people don’t get to experience.

“I don’t know if we do that tradition as much as we used to,” she said, “and I think it’s good for kids to be exposed to that.”

The event was held in the church’s large parking lot because many indoor activities aren’t currently allowed due to the pandemic.

Her daughter, Ellie Cliff, also filmed the event for a live stream, as dozens of congregants wanted to watch from home for safety’s sake.

“We’re being very creative with ways to engage not only with the congregation, but also the community at large,” Pawelek said.