Late Tuesday afternoon, a little bit of Old Hartford will be revived downtown, with a carol sing on the majestic steps of the UConn Hartford campus on Prospect Street.
For years in the 1960s and ’70s, Christmas carol sings were held at that location, when the elegant Beaux Arts building was the headquarters of the Hartford Times newspaper. Since the paper folded in 1976, the building has withered, until UConn revived it this year.
Ronna Reynolds, executive vice president of Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, grew up in Glastonbury. She vividly remembers childhood Christmastime excursions into Hartford with her parents: lights, trees, decorated windows and Santa at G. Fox, and the people singing on Prospect Street.
“We walked from G. Fox to the Times building, where there was an enormous crowd of people,” Reynolds said. “I can remember the feelings that I had: being part of a very large community, being part of a very large sound made by the collective voices of the group
“But mostly what I recall was the incredible visual spectacle of the facade of the Hartford Times building,” Reynolds said. “I remember the very large Christmas trees that were lit. I especially remember the very large impressive pillars that were garlanded and lit.”
iQuilt, the local initiative to encourage downtown visitation, is organizing the “Back to the Times Carol Sing.” Jackie Gorsky Mandyck of iQuilt said the event will begin with instrumental holiday music at 5 p.m., then the singing will begin. Anyone who wants to participate can come and join in.
The choirmaster is Steve Mitchell, who is the director of choral music at Kingswood Oxford school. The emcee for the evening is Susan Campbell, a former Hartford Courant staff writer and a professor at University of New Haven.
Mitchell said they will use carol books from back in the old days of carol singing, with some more contemporary tunes thrown in. He said the singing should end around 6, when the road will be re-opened to traffic.
“We’ll get a good 20 minutes of happiness,” he said.