Hayden carolers continue tradition | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden carolers continue tradition

Mike McCollum

Hayden — The clicking and clopping of horseshoes through the streets of Hayden on Sunday beat a steady rhythm to the sounds of Christmas carols sung by members of the Hayden Congregational United Church of Christ. — The clicking and clopping of horseshoes through the streets of Hayden on Sunday beat a steady rhythm to the sounds of Christmas carols sung by members of the Hayden Congregational United Church of Christ.

— The clicking and clopping of horseshoes through the streets of Hayden on Sunday beat a steady rhythm to the sounds of Christmas carols sung by members of the Hayden Congregational United Church of Christ.

To Janet Babish, the church’s pastor, the sound is as synonymous with Christmas as crackling firewood and a child’s shriek of joy when opening presents.

“This is something that has been going on for almost 90 years,” said Babish, who was one of about 25 members of the congregation caroling from a horse-drawn sleigh. “I’ve been doing this for 23 years myself. You see many of the same faces every year. It’s truly a Christmas tradition in Hayden.”

The carolers first stop was at The Haven Assisted Living Home, where residents were treated with renditions of Christmas classics, including “Silent Night” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Susan Koehler, who caroled with her three daughters and husband, described the experience as “wonderfully fun.”

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“I’ve been doing this every year since I moved here about 12 years ago,” she said. “I wouldn’t miss it.”

Hayden native Christine Epp said she has caroled for as long as she can remember.

“I’m sure I was out here as a baby,” she said.

“Today, I’m out here with my daughter, so I know that at least three generations of my family have done this.”

The Fulton family of Hayden has provided the horses and sleigh since the first carolers braved a few hours in the cold almost 90 years ago to bring Christmas cheer to their neighbors.

Charles Fulton, who joked that he leaves the caroling up to the professionals, attended to the two horses – Keith and Perry – who chauffeured the carolers for the afternoon.

“My father did this, and now I’m doing it out of fun,” Fulton said. “It’s just something that’s a tradition in our family.”

With tired voices, cold hands and red noses from the evening chill, the carolers completed their journey where it started – their church.

“Our Christian Education Department makes a big pot of chili, and we all go back, eat and warm up,” Babish said. “It’s a way for us all to sit down and enjoy some Christian fellowship.”