Christmas tradition raises funds for Panama charities

Carols By Candlelight

This post is also available in: Spanish

By David Young

Carols By Candlelight

A Christmas tradition that began in Australia 77 years ago, and was introduced to Panama in 2011, will have its fifth performance on Saturday, December 12.

Carols By Candlelight began in Melbourne in 1937, when Norman Banks, a radio broadcaster, on his way home on Christmas Eve saw an old lady holding a candle and softly singing a carol to herself.

A choir brings Christmas cheer

A choir brings Christmas cheer.

Wondering how many others in Melbourne were alone on that special night, Banks organized a carols event the next year with one choir and a firemen’s band, 10,000 people carrying candles showed up. The following year the event moved to a sports stadium with 25,000 joining in the singing of seasonal favorites.

The tradition moved to every city in Australia and has continued without a break raising multi-millions for the blind and hospitals and spread around the world.

It was introduced to Panama by the CanadaPLUS Foundation (formerly Club), whose founder first joined in singing with an audience in ’Ndola in the former Central African Federation.

It attracted over 2000 at the first performance and has raised money for the Calicanto Foundation, Hogar San Jose de Malambo and Hospital Santo Tomas, and this year has added Vision of Hope, a unique program teaching blind people to make jewelry, and functioning as part of the community.

During the last five years, scores of thousands of bilingual carol books have been distributed to the public throughout Panama, and to schools to assist in English language programs.

Christmas tradition Five choral groups will be participating in the December 12 presentation, at the Mirador del Pacifico at the Fish Market end of the Coastal Strip, and at the end of each performance the choir will be enlarged to include the candle bearing audience, raising their voices in celebration of the original spirit of Christmas, far from cash registers and commercialism, funds raised will contribute to worthy social causes.

All of the performers and organizers donate their time and energies.

This year “A Viva Voz”, a University choir from Chiriqui directed by Wanda Castillo will travel to Panama to participate along with Coro JP2, Coro de Opera, directed by Paola Cuellar, Kings College Choir, directed by Vanessa Whay and the G Harmony Quartet, directed by Ricardo Gayle.

The concert is free for those who want to sit or stand on the perimeter of the amphitheater and to enter into the spirit of the event they can purchase fund-raising LED souvenir candles on site for $5 and $10.

Reserved seats (including candles carrying the seat number) are available: at $15 $20 and VIP $25: for more information carolspanama@gmail.com; tel. 225-3860 / 6615-5666 (Spanish) 6619-6890 (English).

Seat reservations received by December 9 will be delivered to home or office in Panama city.

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