Porterdale to hold its first TUBACHRISTMAS

PORTERDALE -- An event that draws tuba players from all over the country and abroad will have a local observance Sunday in Porterdale.

TUBACHRISTMAS, which takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas in cities around the country and in Canada and Switzerland, will see its inaugural event in Porterdale at Porterdale Memorial Plaza -- otherwise known as the alley -- at 2 p.m. Sunday.

According to the event sponsors, TUBACHRISTMAS is open to tuba and euphonium players of all ability levels -- a euphonium is a smaller instrument that looks similar to a tuba but plays higher notes. The event provides an opportunity for tuba players to meet each other and share their common interest in a light-hearted festival atmosphere.

In other observances of the event, tuba players have decorated their instruments with ribbons and bows or Christmas ornaments. The event even has its own official fashion item -- a TUBACHRISTMAS stocking hat -- available in red, blue and green -- with a large white pompon on top.

Porterdale is one of six Georgia cities to host a TUBACHRISTMAS event this year. Well established TUBACHRISTMAS events in Atlanta and Savannah draw players from a wide area. Underground Atlanta's event usually involves more than 300 tubas, but this year attendance was down to 200, according to event sponsors.

TUBACHRISTMAS has been a regular field trip for many school bands. However, this year school systems have had to limit field trips due to funding shortages.

"Since local bands can't take a school bus to Atlanta on a weekday, we're hoping that individual band members will come out with their families for a Sunday afternoon concert in Porterdale," said event coordinator Lowell Chambers, who is also a member of the Porterdale City Council. "We are hoping that Underground Atlanta's loss is Porterdale's gain."

Chambers said it is impossible to know how many players will participate in Porterdale's first TUBACHRISTMAS.

"It could range from 16 to 60," he said. "Only time will tell. However, downtown Porterdale, with its small-town atmosphere and intimate plaza, is an ideal venue for TUBACHRISTMAS. If we have enthusiastic audience participation, Porterdale could become the pre-eminent TUBACHRISTMAS event in Georgia."

Alan Fowler, band director at Eastside High School, will be the conductor for the Porterdale event. Dan Ragsdale will lead the audience in singing Christmas carols accompanied by the tuba choir. A special treat will be a performance of "Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas," featuring Ragsdale as vocalist and Fowler as solo tubaist. They will be accompanied by a tuba/euphonium quartet of local players.

Participating players should register at Porterdale City Hall between noon and 1 p.m. Sunday. A rehearsal will be held from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by the performance.

The concert is free to the public, but there is a $5 registration fee for players. All participants will receive the 2009 TUBACHRISTMAS souvenir button. Past participants in TUBACHRISTMAS should bring their carol books. First-time participants may purchase books of carols at registration. TUBACHRISTMAS stocking caps will also be available, but the supply is limited.