Pathfinder singers at Christmas at church

The Pathfinder Chorus sings Christmas favorites during a previous concert in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. This year’s event starts at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 in the church at 16th Street and Johnson Road, Fremont.

Tribune file photo

Steve Slykhuis and Capt. Stephen Hansen hope many people will attend The Pathfinder Chorus Christmas Concert.

Last year, the popular holiday event was cancelled due to bad weather.

And the Salvation Army — which benefits from the concert — felt the repercussions.

The local concert starts at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 3400 E. 16th St., in Fremont.

Admission is free. As in the past, a freewill offering will be accepted for the Salvation Army, which helps area residents in a host of ways — from food boxes to a Summer Lunch Program and other youth programs.

This year’s lineup of songs — sung in barbershop harmony — includes many holiday tunes such as “Little St. Nick,” made famous by the Beach Boys, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “The Secret of Christmas.”

Many audience favorites include the sacred songs of the season such as “The First Noel,” “Silent Night” and a song both tender and triumphant, “Mary, Did You Know?”

Slykhuis, the master of ceremonies, noted an alteration made to the song, “Hallelujah.”

“We’ve added a verse to give it the more sacred Christmas feel as the original song was a bit more secular,” he said.

And four solo voices will add to the stirring song, “Do You Hear What I Hear.”

The festive concert also will include the traditional sing-along during the intermission.

A Salvation Army representative also will tell concert-goers how their donations help the organization.

“We’re often asked to give money to a cause, but it’s nice to hear how individual families are actually affected when we give this time of year,” Slykhuis said.

Hansen, the local Salvation Army captain, stressed the importance of donations collected at the concert.

The concert generally brings in about $5,000 each year.

Last year’s concert was cancelled due to icy and very cold conditions.

“We have guys coming from a 200-mile radius and it makes it difficult from a safety issue,” Slykhuis said.

Moreover, concert-goers risked slipping and falling on the ice.

The cancellation was a disappointment for chorus members.

“For many members of the chorus, this is their favorite concert and it gets us in the mood for Christmas — so not being able to perform last year really left a hole in the season,” Slykhuis said.

The Salvation Army noticed the loss, too.

“We were behind in our Christmas fundraising efforts and the generosity we’re normally accustomed to seeing from the attendance of that concert,” Hansen said.

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People, who usually give at the concert, still wrote checks to the agency, but the loss still made things a little more difficult.

“Our main source of income through the year is at Christmas time. We’re dependent on the kettles (set up around the community) and the different fundraisers,” Hansen said.

Hansen hopes area residents attend the concert.

“It’s not only a really nice concert, it helps us to help those who might not be able to help themselves,” Hansen said.

The Salvation Army assists people in Dodge and Burt counties in many ways.

“We help with food boxes 12 months a year, five days a week. We run a Summer Lunch Program. We have youth programming through the school year and many other programs. We try to help people in the community,” Hansen said.

Slykhuis said many people have been asking when the concert will be.

“This concert, for many, kicks off the Christmas season,” Slykhuis said. “This time of year, we can get busy and distracted and stressed. This concert will make you refocus on why we celebrate Christmas, and bring some peace and joy to your heart.”

Slykhuis also said the Pathfinder group is one of the top 25 choruses in the world and has qualified to participate in international competition in July in Orlando, Fla.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” Slykhuis aid.

Those who miss the local concert also have an opportunity to attend one which starts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 15050 W. Maple St., Omaha. Slykhuis said several Fremont area residents attend this event, the proceeds of which go to the Odd Fellows charitable organization.

Anyone wanting more information about The Pathfinder Chorus may visit: www.pathfinderchorus.org.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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