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Carolers spread holiday joy outside JLA

by Craig Peterson / Detroit Red Wings

Choir students from West Bloomfield High School courted Red Wings fans with carols outside of Joe Louis Arena on Friday night. Their performance was part of a fundraising effort for the school's choir program. (Craig Peterson/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT — Scarves, hats and mittens were required as tunes of 'Frosty the Snowman', 'Silent Night' and 'Jingle Bells' filled the chilly night air outside of Joe Louis Arena.

On Friday, the choir from West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School, serenaded Red Wings fans as they entered the arena alongside the Detroit River, as part of a fundraising effort by the program.

For approximately one hour prior to puck drop, a group of 20 students stood on the entrance steps, spreading holiday cheer among the red and white speckled crowd. The unique venue was one that Sheryl Hauk, choral director and fine arts curriculum coordinator at West Bloomfield, said her students have grown accustomed to.

“These kids, they sing all over the place,” she said. “They’re Michigan Youth Arts Festival winners, which is one of the top honors in the state of Michigan for vocal jazz choirs.”

Hauk said that in order to deal with state cutbacks, the choir program — consisting of 150 students — survives entirely off of fundraisers to pay for transportation, uniforms, music and other fees. In fact, the group’s performance outside of The Joe was not their first excursion into the outdoors. They had a similar performance the previous week at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich., to celebrate the event Holiday Nights and raise funding for the program.

“We’re always fundraising and finding creative ways to do it,” Hauk said. “So this is a really great, creative way to fund raise.”

It was the Wings' organization that reached out to the West Bloomfield program, hoping for a holiday performance that the fans could enjoy as they entered the arena. As an avid Wings fan, Hauk said it was an easy decision to combine her love for the game with her passion for music and her students followed.

“Oh yes, I love hockey,” she proclaimed. “My sons play hockey, I’ve got a picture of my son with the Stanley Cup 18 years ago, in 1997 he was a baby and they put him in the Stanley Cup.”

Referring to her youngest son, Drew, the Hauk's had the unique chance to see the Stanley Cup in person during a coach's visit during the summer of that year. She said it was a great coincidence that her choral group was set to perform outside the arena the same day he was set to celebrate his 18th birthday with a trip to The Joe as well.

At the conclusion of the performance, each choir student got to attend Friday night’s game against the New York Islanders as their reward for their fundraising efforts.

This is the first time that the Wings have offered this unique pregame performance fundraiser for choirs but was the first of six other similar programs scheduled to perform throughout the season. High school bands have been know to display their talents for fans in a similar fashion, and future performances will range in ages from fourth-grade elementary students to high school students.

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