Frigid Temps Don’t Stop Annual Caroling Series

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEWBURGH – It’s something you can always count on to take place the Thursday before Christmas Day. It’s also a special holiday event that never fails to disappoint, bringing the community together, spreading holiday cheer, and providing priceless love, compassion and hope.

Thursday evening at the Newburgh Ferry Landing, about 30 dedicated, altruistic-driven community members, religious and not for profit organizations, bands and vocalists gathered amidst sub-10 degree temperatures for the 13th Annual Ferry Godmother (Aquanetta Wright) Christmas Caroling Series. Singing an assortment of holiday melodies, the upbeat contingent also provided individual holiday cookie bags to exiting Newburgh ferry riders as well as an opportunity to select a donated toy, compliments of Newburgh’s Seventh Day Adventist Church. Phrases such as; “Thank you so much,” “Wow, that is so sweet,” and “It’s so nice to see something like this” resonated from the commuters throughout the Waterfront area. Regardless of whether they were giving or receiving, everyone affected was touched in a positive manner.

“This is our first year here at the caroling event, and it’s something my children were dying to come to; three of my four kids came out tonight, and each got a toy- a motorcycle, bracelet kit and scarf set they loved- and really enjoyed the fire pit area as well as listening to the songs,” said Shiquez McCallop from the City of Newburgh, who was also announced as the night’s $500 prize winner in a contest requiring letters detailing why entrants were deserving of the donated holiday funds.

Participants in the caroling were also well provided for, as a nearby fire pit and hot beverages helped ward off the cold temperatures, while holiday treats and gifts, including hat and glove donations, also from Newburgh Seventh Day Adventist Church, created more smiles and laughter. It was a scene that displayed the power of what can happen when people come together and look out for one another, especially poignant during this time of the year and felt deeply by many, including one of the Ferry Godmother’s long-time supporters, Bishop Jeffrey Woody of the Cathedral at the House in Newburgh. Attending several of his friend’s events over the years, Woody made his inaugural appearance at the Caroling event Thursday.

“It was an absolutely wonderful event to be a part of, seeing community residents sharing the holiday spirit,” said Woody. “Once again, the Ferry Godmother did it in big style; she really is a blessing to the community, as she goes above and beyond.”

As for Wright, regardless of the event she is holding, it is always foremost about the Newburgh community and anything and everything she, along with her supporters, can do to make it a happier, closer and more fulfilled place.

“This Christmas Caroling event is a tradition I started with Captain Mark Summer from New York Waterway, and has grown to include a number of community churches, people from around the City of Newburgh and much more; such as the Newburgh Seventh Day Adventist Church, who I’m so grateful for their extra effort of wrapping over 100 gifts, Bishop Woody, someone who is always trying to help me share good news of all the events because I’m not in Newburgh, as well as Joyce Hoffman of the now closed St. Mary Church, who has been leading this community choir since its start, and all of the community members who wrapped and shared goodies with ferry riders as they disembarked.” Wright, who was extremely excited to again present the Caroling Series to the community, continued, “In spite of extreme cold weather we had a great crowd and all stayed warm by the grace of God and the love that we shared.”

In addition to McCallop being announced as the $500 prize recipient, other well-deserving winners were Keely Huling who was presented with a Coach purse valued at $250 and Shawnte Atkins, selected as the $100 awardee. Thanks to the efforts of Wright as well as some others, each of these people and their family will now enjoy a brighter holiday season….as will all those involved in the growing, popular Caroling Series.

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