River Cities

Holiday music fills the air as Poinciana United Methodist hosts Gift of Song Concert

HOLIDAY TUNES: The CEC Christmas Angels from Poinciana’s Children’s Enrichment Center sang a few traditional songs with Santa Claus and brought holiday cheer as parents watched and snapped pictures during PUMC's annual Gift of Song concert.
HOLIDAY TUNES: The CEC Christmas Angels from Poinciana’s Children’s Enrichment Center sang a few traditional songs with Santa Claus and brought holiday cheer as parents watched and snapped pictures during PUMC's annual Gift of Song concert. Gazette Photo

The season of giving is here and what better gift than the Gift of Song, which has become an annual tradition for music lovers in Miami Springs. The concert, held at Poinciana United Methodist Church last Friday, Dec. 12 brought out a diverse audience of close to 100 people for an evening of holiday cheer filled with the sounds of the season. The audience wasn’t the only diverse bunch as the lineup of performers ranged from preschool children to senior citizens.

Teenage musicians filled the halls of Poinciana as the Hialeah Gardens Middle School Jazz Band was the first group to begin to set up for their annual Christmas concert. After setting up was completed, the teens and their leaders enjoyed a meal provided by A Little Bit of Philly and The Big Tomato along with a little bit of foosball as they waiting for showtime.

At the front of the sanctuary Jolly Old Saint Nick sat next to the Christmas tree. While children of all ages visited with Santa Claus, only a discerning eye would have recognized the eyes behind the glasses and the white beard actually belonged to Miami Springs Mayor Zavier Garcia. Young and old snapped photos with Santa and shared their Christmas wishes.

As Poinciana Pastor Gordon Pike kicked off the evening with a prayer and blessing, the preschool children could barely contain their excitement. The Christmas Angels from Poinciana’s Children’s Enrichment Center (C.E.C.) were first up and they sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells.” Santa Claus (Mayor Garcia) was a good sport, as he stood with the children, rang the Christmas bells, and helped to spread holiday cheer.

“Our children were so eager to participate,” said C.E.C. director Jodie Beltran. “Over the years it has become a special tradition that the children, teachers and parents look forward to. We celebrate our preschoolers and their efforts while at the same we know the children learned so much from being exposed to more accomplished musicians. We are truly honored that our preschoolers were in the company of such talented musicians.”

Next up were the students from Hialeah Gardens Middle School Jazz Band, led by band director Berman Lopez. An array of instruments and teens filled the stage as their jazzy sounds filled the air. From “Winter Wonderland” to “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” to “St. Nick Salsa,” a few familiar sounds were heard as well as a few new and fresh rhythms.

Like he does every year, Miami Springs Vice Mayor Jaime Petralanda collaborated countless hours preparing for the special evening. Petralanda is a middle school teacher at HGMS and was pleased to celebrate another successful concert.

“The Gift of Song unites our families and neighbors in the spirit of love, sharing and joy during the holidays, as we all sang along in a celebration of faith,” Petralanda said. “This event has been a show of inspiration of our faith over the last four years, and I am already looking forward to next year.”

The most experienced musicians of the evening were the amazing Goldcoast Chorus Chapter of Sweet Adelines. The Goldcoast Chorus entertained the crowd with their barbershop-style led by director Iris Cokeroft. The talented and fun-loving group sang accapella and is actually part of a worldwide organization of women singers. They sang a few traditional songs like “Deck the Halls” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” and delighted the crowd with a Miami Flair Quartet and the Christmas Alphabet.

“A lot goes into putting an evening like this together, but there comes that moment when the music begins to play and you look around and you see all the smiles,” Pastor Gordon Pike said. “Christmas is a time to count our blessings, and I was certainly blessed to be a part of the concert. We are a family-oriented community church and we love opening our doors to events like this that bring together all kinds of people for a simple evening of holiday music. I’m already looking forward to next year's concert.”

After the concert, guests enjoyed a buffet of food choices, from grilled hot dogs and hamburgers to brownies and macaroons. More than 15 local businesses sponsored the special event, all joining together for a good cause. As the saying goes, especially this time of year, “It’s better to give than to receive,” and while the evening was surely a gift for all who attended, monetary gifts and proceeds that were raised from the suggested $5 entrance fee went directly back into the programs and organizations that participated. Wrapped toys were also collected for underprivileged children.

Everyone walked away from the evening with a reminder that while many gifts can be held with two hands, the most precious gifts are those that are felt in the heart and in this case heard through the Gift of Song.