Vail’s Dickens Carolers are in the ‘memory-evoking business’ |

Vail’s Dickens Carolers are in the ‘memory-evoking business’

Caramie Schnell
Vail CO, Colorado
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VAIL, Colorado ” Dressed in top hats and hoop skirts, the Vail Community Chorale ” better known this time of year as the Dickens Carolers ” are in the “memory-evoking business,” said Jon Gamble, the groups president.

The traditional carols the group sings oftentimes spur childhood holiday memories in audience members ” “You even see people tear up from time to time. Hopefully it’s because of their memories and not that we’re out of tune, but you never know,” Gamble said, laughing.

The chorale has spent the last 30 years entertaining the community; during the holidays the group bundles up in their 1890s-era garb and takes to the streets in Vail, singing a capella Christmas carols like Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls and Silent Night to people in restaurants and on street corners.

“We have a variety of routes, usually impromptu,” said Dave Mott, a 20-plus year member of the chorale. “We start out at the Interfaith Chapel, stop at the Sonnenalp and other restaurants along the way. We give a mini-concert at Bridge Street, and then, depending on the weather, we’ll sing in the streets.”

The 35 group members begin practicing in the fall for the two-week performance push surrounding the two weeks before Christmas. In the past week alone the group has performed at the senior center in Eagle, the Vail Valley Medical Center, the Minturn Winter Market and with the Children’s Chorale in Eagle this past Sunday. Tonight the group will perform their annual concert at the Vail Interfaith Chapel at 7:30 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public. On Friday the group will perform at the tree lighting ceremony in Vail.

“We’re guaranteed to be filled with the Christmas spirit by the time we’re done performing, that’s for sure,” Gamble said.

Gamble, who sings bass in the mostly a capella group, has been a member of the chorale since its inception 30 years ago and he’s been the president for nearly 20 years, he said. He even met his wife, Nancy, in the group. The pair are the only two remaining original members.

“Taking part in the chorale ensures a successful marriage,” Gamble said. “It’s almost like as long as the group stays together, our marriage will stay together. Actually we’ve had three marriages come out of the group over the years. We really do have some romantic moments. We all get much more out of performing than the effort we put in ” it’s been really fun.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or

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