Carolers spread tidings in Uniontown

December 23, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

A group of men, women and children sang the old familiar Christmas carols through Uniontown on Saturday evening, walking in the footsteps of three generations of community carolers.

It is at least 65 years since a Methodist church pastor first led singers through the community of 19th- and early 20th-century homes that occupies a mile-long stretch of Uniontown Road west of Westminster.

The yuletide tradition has been uninterrupted for 27 years.

The tradition began with the late Rev. John Hoch, who led community caroling early on Christmas morning. "We always went at 5 a.m. and let me tell you, it was cold. But there was something magical about it," recalled Uniontown resident Dottie Fritz, Hoch's daughter. "You'd walk and you'd see the morning star. That kind of pepped us up."

Fritz remembers climbing into a pickup truck to go caroling one Christmas morning in a snowstorm. She remembers one faithful caroler who overslept one Christmas morning -- as the singers reached her house, the woman threw open her window and shouted, "Wait for me!"

After Hoch's death in 1961, caroling became sporadic. In 1969, Uniontown Improvement Association, the event's current sponsor, took over.

The association decided the Saturday before Christmas was a more convenient time for caroling than the holiday morning, said Barbara Childs, who organized this year's event.

Attendance has been as high as 200 and as low as 20; about 25 to 30 carolers turned out Saturday.

Libby Corbin, a Uniontown native who has lived in Mayberry for 43 years, occasionally returns to her hometown for the annual Christmas caroling. Sometimes television makes it difficult for the carolers, she said. "In some ways, television has been a bad thing. You can stand there and sing your heart out, and they don't even know you're here," she said.

Some, however, have made it a point to come out onto their porches and greet the carolers.

Pub Date: 12/23/96

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