Heritage Christmas carolers reunite after 20 years

PAT FRIDGEN
Carolers who performed during the first Heritage Christmas tree lighting in 1991 are back for a command performance. From left: Saundra Wingert, Marcie Zimmerman, Phil Risser and Dave Besecker. They will ring in the 20th anniversary of Heritage Christmas at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 on Center Square. In addition to sharing two songs a capella, they will lead the crowd in a sing-a-long.

What was old is new again. The first quartet to sing during the Heritage Christmas debut in 1991 will be back for the 20th anniversary. It will perform at the tree lighting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 19.

Friends since high school, Saundra (Meckley) Wingert, Marcie (Berger) Zimmerman, Phil Risser and Dave Besecker will entertain with a couple tunes a capella, then lead the crowd in a sing-a-long.

The women were contacted by Chamber of Commerce director Lori Coover that first year. They in turn invited the men to sing with them. All had been students of Greencastle-Antrim High School vocal director Richard Besecker, who happened to be Besecker’s dad. They had also taken private lessons from him.

The four sang at the tree lighting program and in the next five years also strolled during Heritage Christmas evenings, one time singing songs suitable for the featured window displays in the downtown. They dressed in colonial garb to match the theme of the annual event. In the absence of one, Dave Reeder or Laban Wingert filled in.

They plan to dress up for the Friday, Nov. 19 tree lighting, scheduled for 7 p.m. “We have faith we’ll find some clothes,” said Risser.

The quartet gathered for one rehearsal, all they deemed necessary.

“These guys can read,” said Wingert. “You just hand them the music and they sing it.”

The four-part harmony will come from Wingert, 51, soprano; Zimmerman, 50, alto; Risser, 54, bass; and Besecker, 51, tenor.

Music remained a part of their lives for the last 20 years. Besecker is music and worship director at Otterbein Church in Waynesboro, Risser is worship leader at Marion Mennonite Church, Wingert works with the Antrim Brethren in Christ music program, and Zimmerman was involved with the same church for a long time.

Carolers who performed during the first Heritage Christmas tree lighting in 1991 are back for a command performance. Shown in a photo then from left, Wingert, Besecker, Zimmerman and Risser will ring in the 20th anniversary of Heritage Christmas at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 on Center Square. In addition to sharing two songs a capella, they will lead the crowd in a sing-a-long.