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WEST CHESTER — It’s one thing to hear wisps of holiday music floating out of stores as passersby stroll the streets of West Chester, but on Monday night, the Santa Band will be taking to the streets to bring holiday cheer to residents and visitors.
The Santa Band has been around for 44 years, playing in local spots, such as bars, movie theaters and more.
More recently, however, the group of musicians has turned a more charitable route and troops around the borough, playing holiday music and making stops at places which have sponsored them – all in the name of raising money for Safe Harbor.
“Three years ago, I got this idea when I was introduced to Safe Harbor maybe a year and a half before that,” said Bob Finelli, a member of the Santa Band. “I thought we should try and turn this into a charitable thing to do and the staff at Safe Harbor could maybe help us to raise money for them.”
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As part of the mini-parade through town, Finelli will go out to the local businesses to see if they will donate and sponsor the Santa Band. The money from that goes directly to Safe Harbor and will also guarantee a stop from the Santa Band on Monday for a performance.
“The idea was to sell three ads to a page in this little booklet of restaurants, boutiques, etc. and we’ll visit with them when we go on our stroll,” Finelli said. “That’s the way we make the money.”
People who volunteer at Safe Harbor will be following along with buckets for people to donate as well.
This year, the Santa Band will be making 20 stops in West Chester Monday night, starting at Iron Hill Brewery at 7 p.m. and ending up back there to finish the night.
Along the way, the group of six to 10, depending on who shows up, will make stops at places such as Doc Magrogan’s, Avalon Restaurant, Safe Harbor, Boxcar Brewing Company, Barnaby’s of America, Ram’s Head Bar & Grill and more.
The band will play about 10 songs both en route to the locations and in the businesses as well.
“I email them to the (musicians) so they at least have a warning,” Finelli said. “We have some fun over the years and do ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Hinkle Bells’ for our Jewish friends.”
The Santa Band also does “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” while laying on their backs on the floor.
“We just get silly with it,” Finelli laughed.
With the band members getting older, Finelli would like to see an injection of youth into the group next year and knows of a perfect recruiting place.
“We’re all West Chester boys – college music students from there,” he said. “In fact, the idea I have is to go down there and get some kids who might stay local and get them in the band for next year to help us continue it as we get older.”
All told, the Santa Band will typically raise between $3,000 to $5,000 for Safe Harbor during its musical stroll through West Chester.
“It’s a terrific thing,” Finelli said. “It keeps our thing going. I don’t really get into the Christmas spirit until we do this.”