By Ashley Imlay
SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of kids jigged in the aisles and bleachers of the Vivint Arena Monday evening, proving that Christmas carols are just as danceable as disco.
For the Johnson family, the annual Christmas Carole Sing Along is a Yuletide essential.
“The first year, I think we started out with four people,” said Rachel Johnson, who was dressed up like a Whovian from “The Grinch” while her husband masqueraded as the Grinch himself and posed for pictures with admirers.
Monday, 60 of Johnson’s extended family members attended the singalong, all dressed like Whovians. Every year, they follow a different theme with their costumes, Johnson said.
“It’s a fun tradition. I think everybody when they started, they’re like, ‘This is the new thing for all of us,'” she said, adding that the family plans to return next year.
During the free event hosted by the Larry H. Miller family, the large crowd showed off Santa hats and ugly sweaters. An array of voices young and old joined in beloved carols.
Santa Clause and the Jazz Bear also made an appearance together, inciting cheers from the many young members of the audience.
During the singing, the West Valley Symphony provided accompaniment while song lyrics rolled across the arena’s Jumbotron. The large display also captured kids intent on their dancing, who lit up in apparent delight when they noticed their faces on the screen.
The event also included a performance from the Bonner Family, who captivated the crowd as they harmonized for a few goosebump-inducing songs.
For the Andersons, the event is a long-running tradition.
“The music is fun, festive. Rings in the holiday,” Jennifer Anderson said. “I definitely love the music.”
She also enjoys seeing “Santa, of course. You can’t go wrong with him.” She, her husband and her father wore festive sweaters for the event.
For other families, Monday’s singalong marked the start of a new tradition.
The Caspers decided to attend for “just some family fun,” 11-year-old Emma Casper explained.
“We had so much fun! We’ll come every year now,” Emma’s mom, Leslie Casper, said.
For Emma, the best part was “just the singing, I love singing.”
Sophie Chuy, 6, who is asking Santa for an LOL Doll for Christmas, also said her favorite part was “the singing.”
Her mother, Libbey Chuy, explained the family returns regularly to the Christmas event because “our kids love it. We ask them what they want to do for our traditions, they just love it.”
For Aaron Ruff, who attended with his wife and kids, the event was “more fun” than expected.
“I liked the family of singers,” said 11-year-old Ashby Ruff.
His mother, Stephanie Ruff, agreed.
“I loved the Bonner family and just the spirit of Christ that they brought into it, I thought that was really awesome,” she said.
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Students at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind also said they enjoyed the chance to join in on beloved Christmas carols.
“I liked ‘Silent Night.’ I mostly sang,” said Samantha Taylor. She said the part of Christmas she’s most excited about is to spend time with her family.
Her friend, Taylor Posen, also said she had fun. “I like to sing,” Posen said, adding that her favorite carol was also “Silent Night.”
As the event ended for another year, the red and green-clad attendees poured out of the arena, making the streets of downtown Salt Lake City look a little more Christmasy.