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WALDO CANYON FIRE: Carolers bring a joyful noise to Mountain Shadows

By: MATT STEINER
December 16, 2012
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photo - Wilson United Methodist Church pastor David Hiester, center, sings carols with other church members and his children, Katie and Andrew Hiester, right, as they make their way singing through the Mountain Shadows neighborhood Sunday. Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO/THE GAZETTE
Wilson United Methodist Church pastor David Hiester, center, sings carols with other church members and his children, Katie and Andrew Hiester, right, as they make their way singing through the Mountain Shadows neighborhood Sunday. Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO/THE GAZETTE 

A band of carolers ventured out Sunday night for a second try at bringing Christmas cheer to people in the fire-ravaged Mountain Shadows neighborhood in western Colorado Springs.

The group of 20 people started at the Wilson United Methodist Church on Flying W Ranch Road. They broke up into two groups before heading door-to-door in the area blackened by the Waldo Canyon fire in late June.

“The goal is to bring a joyful noise to the people that are still here,” said Indiana Martin, the church’s music director. “We thought we’d bless them with Christmas songs instead of construction noise.”

Those that didn’t have their homes destroyed in the blaze spend their days amid the noisy rebuilding. High winds and turbulent weather pushed the blaze east into the city on June 26, destroying 346 houses and killing two people.

The fire burned more than 18,000 acres in the foothills west of Colorado Springs.

The church, which sits just yards from gutted homes, has been working for months to bring smiles to the neighborhood.

The congregation held a tree lighting Nov. 30 that brought displaced residents back and gave them a “symbol of light and hope,” Martin said.

The Methodist Church originally scheduled the night of Christmas carols for Dec. 9, but single-digit temperatures forced cancellation.

Lynn Becka, a volunteer with the nonprofit Colorado Springs Together, which helps Waldo Canyon victims, said a small group did brave the frigid temperatures that night but only sang along one cul-de-sac before giving up.

Becka and Martin were hoping for 50 people Sunday so they could spread the joy across the entire burned neighborhood. Instead, they serenaded along Rossmere Street with songs that included Away in a Manger, The First Noel and We Three Kings.

Madelyn Renander, a 16-year-old student at Air Academy High School, came out both weeks.
Renander returned Sunday because she “really likes singing” and thought it would be a meaningful volunteer opportunity.

“It shows that the community still cares and (the victims) haven’t left our minds,” Renander said.

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