By Reba Phelps
After taking a year off due to unforeseen weather related issues, the infamous, “Cat Burglar Carolers,” once again struck unsuspecting neighbors in the Whitfield-St Clair area. Well, most were unsuspecting unless they read the friendly warning on the Facebook Neighborhood Watch page.
The carolers, who’s ages range from 6-15 and travel from as far as Upper St. Clair, met in early December to begin the vigorous training that is required to be a caroler. The children were required to participate in high intensity cardio to make sure they could withstand the physical demands of running through yards in the dead of night with only a street light to aid their vision.
The other areas of training consisted of a strict diet that limits sugar and encourages lean protein and vegetables. This was solely based on the honor system with no true means of recordable accountability. Last, but not least, was team building. The carolers participated in various activities that encouraged team resolutions to simple every day caroling problems.
A few of the hazards that accompany caroling include; falling down while running to a new house. Every caroler must take a knee until the injured has recovered. Assisting fellow carolers as they load into the truck bed and as they disembark. Sharing the duties of passing out the autographed Christmas cards and candy canes. The older carolers assume responsibility for the younger carolers.
It is a complete team effort.
This may seem a little over the top but I run a tight ship and not everyone makes the cut. The carolers learn very quickly that only the most well behaved get to ring that door bell. During practices they were judged based on the most stylish approach to the door bell, getting back in line as quickly as possible as well as good posture. Last, and certainly not least, is the intense discipline needed to carryout all of the aforementioned tasks with zero yelling and horseplay.
This year we chose 14 houses in our area based on Facebook request or neighbor nominations. All of the houses chosen had one common thread that bound them together. They could use some Christmas cheer.
On caroling night all of the carolers show up in their holiday brightest. This includes red Santa hats, light up necklaces, holiday scarves, and possibly an ugly sweater or too. Once everyone arrives they set out on a mission to make the neighbors smile and spread Christmas cheer.
Some houses invite the children in to play with their dogs. Some houses invite the kids in for a snack or send the kids off with a snack. I dare not think this is the reason for their loyal dedication to the cause. Every house visited ends bringing a smile to children’s faces as well.
At the end of the evening the carolers celebrate the end of the caroling season with a pizza party at my house and plans begin for the next year. We are always looking to expand the group and take on new carolers. The current group agrees that we should recruit a musician or two for next season.
Even though the children had loads of fun and there was lots of work behind the scenes the true blessing came with each door that we knocked on. So many people were surprised and just smiled endlessly. Caroling as a child, for myself, built long lasting great memories and it goes without saying…. that these children are spreading joy and cheer by putting others first and remembering the true reason for the season.
Cat Burglar Carolers for the 2018 year include:
Jude Coleman, Sophia Pleasant, Carson Lyles, Kyson McKnight, Teegan McKnight, Gabriel McKnight, Molly Coleman, Sidney Hicks, Ally Jett, Rannon Jett, and Colby Jett.
Team Building: Meredith Phelps
Quality Control: Laura Lyles
Herding carolers on performance night:
Coree McKnight, Micah & Caron Coleman, Laura Lyles, and Shelley Pleasant
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”