MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Wednesday was the last dress rehearsal for the annual Singing Christmas Tree performance by the Mona Shores Choir and Orchestra, but it wasn't a normal practice session.
It was actually a special free show for some in the community.
"Economically disadvantaged people, people who are disabled, people who probably couldn't afford to see the show sometimes without coming to this night," choir director Shawn Lawton explained. "It's become a really special night for us."
The tree stands 67 feet tall and is made up of 250 students. A Muskegon tradition now in its 34th year, the show at the Frauenthal Center features a wide variety of holiday music.
"Everything from sacred to secular music, popular music, gospel, Hanukkah music, jazz — you're going to hear a little bit of everything and I've found that's what people want," Lawton said.
Mona Shores' Singing Christmas Tree is the tallest in America. Parents helped build the steel structure and make sure the shows go off without a hitch.
"(Parents are) back behind the tree to make sure students are safe, up and down every level, to ushering and ticket sales, it just goes on and on," Lawton listed. "I love the fact that it just brings parents and kids together and brings a great holiday spirit for everybody."
Just like your tree at home, the Singing Christmas Tree has an ornament at the top — except in this case, it's a person. Each year, a senior is selected for the coveted role of "the angel."
"The angel is someone who is getting a little recognition for being so dedicated to the choir over their four years," Lauren Jensen, this year's angel, said.
"I climb up this huge ladder that's along the side and then I just stand there," she continued. "There's nothing to buckle me in or anything, so like once I get to the top, I stand there, I feel like I'm going to fall but I know I'm not."
Organizers work hard to prepare and put on four shows, this year happening Thursday through Saturday.
"When you take 250 kids and put them into a five-story structure covered with 25,000 lights and pack the joint with people and sing holiday music, it's kind of a unique thing," Lawton said.
That's probably why all four shows are sold out.