The Calithumpians, a Fredericton-based theatre troupe, brought holiday cheer to downtown on Black Friday. This is their third year of partnering with Downtown Fredericton to show support for local businesses through parodies of Christmas carols.
In the re-writes of the songs, they turned Rocking around the Christmas Tree into Shopping Downtown on Christmas Eve.
“Shopping Downtown on Christmas Eve [is] for all the last-minute shoppers out there like me,” said Will Pacey, artistic director of the Calithumpians.
Pacey was part of the original team that helped to write the carols. Every year since, they added and retired songs from their roster. A new one they are working on is Downtown Freddy, a play on Santa Baby.
Their song, 12 Downtown Days of Shopping Local, is based on The 12 Days of Christmas. A music video from 2020 shows the Calithumpians dressed up in hats and bells dancing around local businesses like Westminster Books and Milltown Roasters.
The Calithumpains are making a new music video of their song Shopping Spree, a parody of Let it Snow. The lyrics include, “those big box stores are frightful, but downtown is so delightful.”
Downtown Fredericton approached the Calithumpians in 2019 with the idea of parodying carols. The goal was to show support for the downtown businesses during the holiday season.
As a small business themselves, the Calithumpians love supporting local. Pacey said their carols bring a sense of fun and whimsy to a day of shopping.
“A lot of these business owners are your friends and neighbours,” said Pacey. “It creates this nice, collaborative atmosphere and community.”
Pacey is heading a team of three singers this year; Lars Schwarz, Maggie Cronin and Collin Flanagan.
Cronin started volunteering with the Calithumpians when she was 13. Now 23, she loves to sing with the troupe and participates in a variety of activities with them. She said that practicing the songs for the last few days got the new lyrics stuck in her head.
“It’s definitely a fun way to get in the holiday spirit,” she said.
Last year, Cronin couldn’t go home for Christmas because of COVID-19 and spent most of the holiday season baking to distract herself. Her favourite carol that the troupe sings is Have a Bake-y Cake-y Christmas, set to the tune of Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.
Cronin thinks that seeing performers downtown brings a bit of normalcy to pandemic times. She hopes that it will make it feel like the holidays are back.
Collin Flanagan, who sings and plays guitar alongside Cronin, said their carolling boosts morale downtown.
“When people come up to us, we give a little more energy, play it up and try to build spirits for when things have been a little tough the past few years,” said Flanagan.
The Calithumpians will be out for two hours on the evening of Dec. 2 for a moonlight shopping event. Carolling will continue in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Flanagan said the joy when carolling is contagious.
“It’s a good chance to act as ridiculous as you can be for the benefit of what you’re doing,” he said.