ZANESVILLE, Oh – A Zanesville holiday tradition was back this year.
After a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Handbell Festival returned for its 31st year Sunday.
With a variety of holiday songs, hymns, and even a rendition of Singin’ In the Rain, the Thursday Music Club sponsored the concert at Grace United Methodist Church which was open to all.
Members of all ages performed, including longtime bell ringer, Bob Frael, who says he’s been with the group since he was a child.
“It’s probably something I’ve done longer than I can remember doing anything else. They started in 1965. I was a 7th grader at Roosevelt and another fellow and I used to run down after school and run across the bridge and come over here and practice. I’ve enjoyed playing bells. I’ve done it so long and, like I said, I don’t have anything special about it, and I’m not that gifted, it’s just that I’ve done it so long that it’s just natural to me,” Handbell Festival Performer Bob Frael told us.
The show began at 7 PM and featured a welcome, prayer, and of course, plenty of music, including holiday classics like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” with several vocalists and even a flute soloist.
And after two long years without this beloved tradition, it was a welcome return for both the performers and the community.
“For some people this is the kick-off to the holiday season. And it really does mean a lot and a lot of people have missed getting together and doing this and you’re going to see a lot of smiles on peoples’ faces just because we’re back doing this. It’s a fun event. That’s all there is to it,” Grace UMC Director of Handbells, Ann Lillie Briggs said.
If you missed this year’s festival, don’t worry, it will return next year, for a 32nd rendition of the highly-anticipated night of music.
For more information on Grace United Methodist Church visit: https://www.facebook.com/GraceUnitedMethodistZanesville