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Fifteen years of Tuba Christmas

The first Tuba Christmas was held in 1998 with 39 participants and was to be held outdoors at the Polk County courthouse.
Rain intervened, and it was moved to the Stearns Auditorium where the conductor stood on a table to lead the concert. Since that time the concerts have been held in the Polk County High School auditorium.
Participants have come from both Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and several other states, with players ranging in age from 11 to the mid 80s and occasionally older.
Traditionally, for many years a student from Western Carolina University’s music department would perform the carol, “O Holy Night.” Dr. Mike Schallock, a tuba specialist from WCU, conducts an annual contest to determine the soloist. This year, for the 15th anniversary of the Polk County event, a special solo will be performed by P. Blake Cooper of Los Angeles.
Past concerts have been spearheaded by Stan and Jean Howell who make their home at Tryon Estates. After 15 years they are retiring from their positions and it will be interesting to see how many people it takes to fill their shoes.
Manfred Walter of Mill Springs has been Stan’s assistant and will take over the reins for future concerts. Over the years there has been a “Mystery Fund Raiser” who helps collect monies needed to present this event and keep it free to the public. Support also comes from the Polk County Community Foundation, the Wilhelm Fund, businesses and individuals in Polk County. Each participant receives a free lunch paid for by the Rotary Club.
The Tuba Christmas concert will be held on Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m., at the Polk County High School. All seats are free. Come and start the month on the right note.
– article submitted by Betsy Zeeke