Friday, December 16, 2005
A sour note for choir at Wal-Mart
A festive group of high school choir students from Central Islip singing at an Islandia shopping center discovered over the weekend that some people were not in the holiday spirit.
After entering a Wal-Mart store, the choir was quickly asked to leave before even starting to sing its first song.
The Central Islip High School concert choir had just finished a performance at the United Methodist Church off Veterans Memorial Highway, when the students proposed to go caroling in the shopping center across the street.
Their director, John Anthony, approved the move and the group of about 30 students found warm welcomes at the Stop & Shop grocery store and other shops in the center. That is, until they entered Wal-Mart.
Right away, a store manager approached the award-winning group, announcing that they did not have an appointment and that the sheer size of the group posed a fire hazard, Anthony said.
The teens then sang one song - "Guide Me," a classic Welsh tune - to the delight of the customers.
"Sing more!" Anthony said the shoppers were screaming. But Wal-Mart was adamant and even called police. The students left peacefully before police arrived and no arrests were made.
The choir's merriment quickly disintegrated, the director said. "The kids were just 'Bah humbug!'" he added.
Wal-Mart officials released a statement this week saying the choir's appearance was unscheduled and created a fire code violation. "For their safety and the safety of our customers, we asked them to move," the statement read.
Wal-Mart has offered the school an opportunity for the choir to return at a scheduled time. The store also made an undisclosed donation toward the choir's trip next summer to Austria, where they will be one of three student choirs from the United States to perform at a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth.
Should we be surprised this happened in New York??