Deering Center residents Dick and Andrea Hall applaud from their doorway after carolers performed from the side of Hartley Street on Sunday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Dozens of carolers full of Christmas spirit walked up and down the streets of Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood Sunday, belting out “Deck the Halls,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and more classics to anyone who answered the door.

Some residents seemed surprised to see a large group of singers on their steps.

At one home on Clinton Street, the carolers sang “White Christmas” as a family sat on their porch, listening and beaming.

“We just moved here. This is so magical,” said Kathryn Cantrell, holding her 10-month-old baby. “We’re so happy.”

Carolers sing outside a home on Clinton Street on Sunday. The event was organized by Bobbi Cope, right. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Just before that song, the group knocked on the door of another home and sang, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

“It’s absolutely lovely,” said Matt McKinney as he sat with his wife, Christa Cook-McKinney, on their porch with their two children. “What a wonderful thing to happen in our neighborhood.” His wife added it was the first time they’ve been met with carolers at their door.


The group started out just before dusk with about 50 people of all ages, from young children to seniors, and a few dogs. Many of them were dressed with festive Santa hats and holiday garb.

As the carolers went from house to house, more singers joined in.

Bobbi Cope, of Portland, led the way, dressed in a Victorian-style hat and coat. The caroling and tree-lighting is an annual tradition organized by the Deering Center Neighborhood Association, she said.

Carolers cross Stevens Avenue on the way to perform outside homes Sunday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Some years, Cope knocks on doors ahead of time asking if residents will be home. There were no advance notices this year, but residents seemed delighted.

Even when a little light rain started to fall, the group took it in stride.

“It’s snowing melting snow!” one man joked. “Well, we won’t have to shovel,” a woman said.


Those who turned out to sing at doorsteps said they enjoy the tradition.

Charles Shattuck-Heidorn, his three children and their dog were among them. He’s caroled every year since 2016, he said. “It’s a wonderful event that the neighborhood loves to do.”

For Lisa Silverman, of Portland, it was her first time caroling.

Singing generates friendship and goodwill, she said. “Voices together unify people. When people sing together, it’s like one voice, one note, one community.”

Maggie, a 12-year-old Havanese, stands patiently while owner Laura Rogers and others perform a Christmas carols outside a home on Hartley Street. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Veteran caroler Joanne O’Neil said she loves the kids’ Christmas songs – “songs that get people to open their door.”

“I love the moment they open the door. They get really excited,” she said.

Two women from Westbrook, Andrea Pollard and Joy Malier, were driving by the carolers and were compelled to stop and listen.

“It’s wonderful old tradition, a beautiful thing to see, especially in a world full of a lot of things going on in the world,” Pollard said. “It’s a difficult time for a lot of people. It’s just nice to see such love.”

After the caroling, the group gathered with others at the corner of Brentwood Street and Stevens Avenue to wait for the tree-lighting. Finally, the countdown began, then the tree lights were plugged in to cheers and applause.

Foster Sandzen, 3, is illuminated by a Christmas tree at tree-lighting event in Deering Center on Sunday. Foster was one of two children who won a contest to help light the tree after a countdown. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

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