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OJAI : Caravan of Carolers Spreads Yule Cheer

A festive group of about 35 carolers took to the Ojai streets on horseback and in horse-drawn carriages Sunday to serenade nursing home residents with Christmas music.

Brisk temperatures, frosted lawns and icicles hanging from tree branches lent a Christmas atmosphere to the caravan threading its way through the city streets.

It is the fourth year that the old-fashioned caroling has taken place.

Richard Arriaga, who accompanied his wife Barbara and two children, called the event “a chance to give, in the form of a song, to people who might not otherwise hear this music.”

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A series of mishaps, however, almost kept the singers from spreading their holiday cheer.

The problems began as the caravan headed along Rice Road outside of Ojai, when one of the riders fell from his horse.

He was not seriously injured.

Then, at the first two stops, a convalescent center at the Ojai Valley Hospital and the Grey Gables nursing home, supervisors seemed surprised at the sight of the carolers, although Norm Davis of Ojai said he advised them of the group’s plans.

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At both homes, the singers were almost drowned out by ringing alarm bells, triggered by water leaks from pipes burst by the overnight cold.

At Grey Gables, residents were unaware that the carolers were outside and remained in their rooms.

But at the third stop, Mountain Vista Manor on East Oak Street, half a dozen residents emerged into the chilly air and joined in as the carolers sang “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells” and other traditional songs.

“It was very nice,” Mountain View resident Helmi Eson, 82, said.

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“I think they should do it every year.”


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