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Holiday shoppers stopped and smiled Saturday afternoon to hear the familiar carols “Frosty the Snowman,” “Joy to the World” and “Jingle Bell Rock” ringing through the streets and businesses of downtown Corvallis.

Wearing Santa hats and toting clarinets, saxophones and trumpets, about a dozen members of the Corvallis Community Band stopped at street corners, stores and restaurants to fill the air with holiday music.

“I just love this kind of stuff,” said Ron Garnett, 61, of Corvallis, who was taking in the melodies. “I’ve always loved Christmas carols.”

Garnett said he has lived in Memphis, Tenn., Anchorage, Alaska, and Miami, Fla., and has learned that people carol across the U.S. no matter the location or weather.

“If I don’t get Christmas carols during Christmas, I have withdrawals,” he said. Garnett followed the band a bit Saturday, to get his fill.

The band, which is open to any community member with at least a high school band proficiency level, first formed back in the 1920s. It has been continuously performing since 1976, when it re-formed to perform in honor of the nation’s bicentennial. It is perhaps best known for its free Tuesday night summer concert series in Central Park. The band also performs at significant local events, such at Oregon State University’s graduation ceremony.

The band has a core membership of about 60. A smaller version has been performing a mobile holiday concert for around 20 years, and band members said that tradition just keeps growing.

“It started out as just a five-piece band,” said Sue Borden, one of the band’s founding members. She said she couldn’t imagine doing anything else to get into the holiday spirit.

“We like to think it’s a community service,” Bordon said.

“We do it a little bit for everyone,” said Rick Viasco, who plays the baritone saxophone. “We love to play music and share in the season.”

And business owners ushered in the dozen band members to play for their customers and employees.

The Toy Factory owner Katey Noel said that she happily welcomes the band playing in her store every year.

“They just show up and say, ‘Can we play?’ and we say of course,” she said. “It’s so wonderful; it makes it so festive.”

Band members even got some audience participation when 2-year-old Clara Umble and Donna Pence stepped up to play the bells.

“They just said they needed some bell-ringers, and I thought, hey, I could probably keep time,” she said. “That’s so nice. It just makes you smile.”

For more about the Corvallis Community Band, see


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