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Carolers bring cheer throughout streets of Montauk

Grace Rasi, Maisie Knoll and Zoe Sanderlin, all

Grace Rasi, Maisie Knoll and Zoe Sanderlin, all 6 years old and of Montauk, participate in the first Montauk Community Christmas Caroling. (Dec. 20, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

The thumpity-thump-thump of feet on a wooden porch echoed through a quiet Montauk street as a group of carolers emphasized their words with stomps while singing “Frosty the Snowman” to the beaming woman who answered the door.

When finished, the group was warmly thanked, as the woman shared with them that she had recently had a stroke and just that day reached a milestone in her recovery -- she could reach her right arm behind her back.

“Seeing their faces has been wonderful,” said Melissa Mahoney, of Montauk, about why she and her 6-year-old daughter, Zoe Sanderlin, joined the first Montauk Community Christmas Caroling. “We’re bringing something to people who rarely leave their homes.”

Velaine Pfund, assistant to the director of housekeeping at Gurney’s Inn Resort & Spa, organized the caroling endeavor, which stopped at the homes of nine elderly Montauk residents.

“I just was feeling no Christmas spirit,” Pfund said. “Then somebody sent me a YouTube video of a flashmob Christmas caroling and I thought, ‘That’s what’s missing!’ ”

She asked her employers and the Montauk Chamber of Commerce if they would co-sponsor the event, and put a sign-up sheet for the elderly in the Town of East Hampton Senior Nutrition Center to determine where they would stop.

On Thursday evening, 12 people -- both adults and children -- some with Santa hats keeping their heads safe from the cold, set out to bring a little bit of holiday cheer to some of Montauk’s oldest residents.

On Hoppin Avenue, a caretaker led the group through the house and into a back room, where Hedwig Lukas sat with a blanket over her lap and a cup of tea on the tray in front of her.

As the group sang “O Holy Night,” Lukas clasped her hands over her chest and smiled brightly.

“You know, it was my birthday,” she said. “You know how old I am? 100.”

So for Lukas, the carolers also sang “Happy Birthday,” as Lukas showed off the birthday card she received from the White House.

“It was so nice of you all to come see me,” Lukas said, as the group filed out of her small room and wished her well.

On a small, unpaved road leading to Fort Pond, Fran Ecker, 84, answered the carolers’ knock in a red sweater and a Christmas pin.

The group sang “Jingle Bells” and “O Holy Night” as Ecker sang along. Afterward, the children delivered a basket of cookies.

“It was so lovely,” said Ecker, a lifelong Montauk resident who said her daughter used to bring her Girl Scout troop caroling in Montauk. “This made my Christmas.”

Esther Knoll, of Montauk, sang with the group as her daughter Maisie Knoll, 6, stood front row and center at each house with the other girls her age. Back on the Gurney’s shuttle bus that drove them from house to house, Knoll put an arm around her daughter as she described her experience.

“It’s nice to all be together,” she said. “Joy starts close to home.”

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