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The Christmas Spirit Prevails When Walkers, Singers Collide

The choir was in the middle of its third song, “Angels We Have Heard on High,” when a burbling parade of adults pushing strollers and preschoolers carrying folded balloons arrived on the scene via the skywalk.

Suddenly Saturday morning, the open area at the top of the STA Plaza’s escalator was simultaneously home to two quite different events. Veritas, the Inland Empire Boys Choir, was giving a Christmas performance. And a charity walk-a-thon to support the Wishing Star Foundation finished up right next to where the 15 boys were singing.

At first, it seemed like an unfortunate combination.

The choir, dressed in black pants, white shirts and bow ties, clearly was a rather formal group accustomed no doubt to attentive listening. And the walk-a-thon participants, who continued to arrive during “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” talked, laughed and - when a balloon popped - squealed.

But the singers, most of them teenagers, didn’t seem flustered. And as the choir sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” some in the milling and buzzing walk-a-thon crowd seemed to realize something.

“Hey, that choir is pretty good.”

Parents and kids clutching hamburgers, fries and soft drinks started drifting over to the seats facing the small stage where the singers stood.

Soon an audience that had numbered about a dozen was pushing 80 or 90.

OK, maybe some of the people looking on mostly wanted a place to sit while they gagged down their post-walk lunch. But the applause after “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” seemed more than perfunctory.

We’re so bombarded with phony holiday sentiment that it’s almost possible to forget what the real thing feels like. And sometimes the sights or sounds that trigger genuine emotion present themselves at unexpected moments.

Judging from the looks on at least a few faces at the bus station Saturday morning, the chance confluence of the concert and the walk-a-thon hit just the right seasonal note.

Another balloon popped seconds before the choir’s last song. It startled this one little girl with dark brown hair. But she quickly returned her attention to the boys on the stage.

And she quietly joined in as they sang “Silent Night.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Being There is a weekly feature that looks at Inland Northwest gatherings.

Being There is a weekly feature that looks at Inland Northwest gatherings.