“My mother has been a church organist for 50 some years and my grandmother before her,” said organizer and Gulfport resident Lisa Kauffman.
Last year, when she was in Virginia visiting relatives, the following mother-daughter conversation happened:
Her mother said, “So, where is your Christmas caroling?”
Lisa said, “There is no Christmas caroling in Gulfport.”
Her mother said, “Well, you’d better get to it!”
When Kauffman returned home, she called the city and asked if she could start a grassroots caroling group using the trolley.
Last year was the first and “it was a big success,” said Kauffman.
This year, she’s had more people saying they want to do it and “here we are,” she said.
The singing event was planned to coincide with the city’s Saturday, December 16 Art and Gallery Walk. The starting point was in front of her Shore Boulevard home, which is where eager people began gathering on the sidewalk at about 6:30 p.m.
Just before the trolley arrived for the 7 p.m. start, the group came up with a name for themselves: Gulfport Trolley Carolers. Kauffman’s 2-year-old granddaughter Dreama Grace waved her flashlight in approval. Her daughter Jamie Kaufmann helped distribute music rattles and hand-sized tambourines with flashing holiday lights.
They also had about 30 printed songbooks prepared by Lisa Kauffman.
“I have all the songs,” she said. “People yell out a page number and we start. We usually stop at the restaurants and sing. People just get on and off the trolley along the way.”
By profession, she is a civil engineer so being organized is part of her life.
But estimating enthusiasm from the public is something she’s learning about. Next year, she’ll need more books.
When the trolley arrived, many of the seats were already taken. To participate, the crowd from her home and the street quickly realized it was going to be a situation of standing room only.
No matter. People stepped up into the trolley, found a place, shared songbooks then harmonized for the evening’s adventure of good cheer.