The Jacksonville High School Choir knocked it out of a major league stadium last week.
Last Thursday was Jacksonville Night a Busch and over five hundred people from the Jacksonville area met in St. Louie in the right field section of the ballpark for the 5th annual event.
Shelly Singleton who organizes the event says the annual event is special because it gives people the chance as a community to all get-together and celebrate their hometown.
Singleton says this year was extra special as the St. Louis Cardinals invited Jacksonville to bring someone to sing God Bless America on the field before the game.
“This year was just one of the best I think doing that. By having the opportunity for the choir to perform, we’ve never had that part offered to us before. We’ve had the first pitch every time, but the choir part was something different. And so we thought who better to invite than the JHS Choir. And these kids helped promote this event the whole time by coming out and signing when Fredbird came. They marched in the 4th of July parade. And then we recorded them [singing] with Scotty DeWolf and you guys had them on the radio as a part of our ad and the kids were all excited that they were on the radio.”
The Jacksonville Night participants all sat together down the right-field line, and the JHS Choir sang just outside of the wagon gate in right field, right in front of their hometown crowd.
Singleton says their performance blew many in the crowd away. “We were up on a concourse when they started and when it started off we couldn’t hear them very well so I was a little bit nervous, but then I think they adjusted the volume. But Jacob Smetters, who is their director, picked a different arrangement for God Bless America, so it started off a little bit differently.
Then once they got into it, we were standing there and these two young ladies, these sopranos hit these notes and I’m telling you I had goosebumps running up and down both arms. I thought these kids are knocking it out of the park! I was so proud of them and it was such a neat experience for them because they came early and got to go down to Union Station and check out all of that. Some of the kids have never been to St. Louis before so that was a big deal for them,”
Adding to the moment was Deloris DeSummers from the Jacksonville Community Center for the Deaf signed along with the choir as they performed with Deloris shown on one Jumbotron and the choir kids on another.
Singleton says it was delightful to see a true essence of Jacksonville represented during the performance. Scotty DeWolf threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Singleton says DeWolf was nervous because he had not thrown a baseball since he was young, but that he practiced and did just fine with the pitch.
Singelton says the event routinely sells over one thousand tickets for the Jacksonville Night, however, due to COVID making charter bus service a no-no, and likely some still hesitant to attend large gatherings due to COVID, she thinks it was a great success nonetheless.
Proceeds from the event go to the Jacksonville Tree Project. Singleton says she hopes next year, things are back to normal, and charter bus service and more attendees can go to the game with their friends and neighbors.