Nelson Deal as dependable as Santa at Williamsport Community Band's Christmas concert

December 16, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Nelson Deal announces a song at the Williamsport Community Band Christmas Concert held at St. James Brethren Church on Sunday.
Nelson Deal announces a song at the Williamsport Community Band Christmas Concert held at St. James Brethren Church on Sunday.

There are a few things you can usually count on at the Williamsport Community Band’s annual Christmas concert.

The band will perform “The Night Before Christmas” while the poem is read to children, Santa will drop by and hand out toys donated through the Marine Corps League’s Toys for Tots program and Nelson Deal will serve as announcer for the program.

Deal, 81, said he’s missed a few of the band’s concerts due to his health and, one day, there will be a younger announcer, but he enjoys the role.

Deal, who lived in Williamsport for 43 years, helped start the band.

“The year was 1997 and a very good friend of mine — Rodney Nave, a clarinet player — said to me, he said, ‘You know, it’s a shame we don’t have a, a nice band in Williamsport like we used to have,’” Deal said Sunday before the community band’s 15th annual holiday concert.

So the two men pushed for a community band, which was fully supported by then-Mayor John Slayman, said Deal, who now lives in Maugansville.

Williamsport’s town charter also designated there was supposed to be a band maintained by the town, said Deal, a former member of the Williamsport Town Council.

Deal said the town had a great community band in the 1920s. He didn’t know why it stopped, though World War II caused many activities to cease, he said.

While “the town” would like to fund the band, it doesn’t do so now due to the economic downslide of recent years, Deal said.

Noel Kunkle, the band’s assistant director, told about 200 people at Sunday’s concert that last winter the band “was on the verge of, ah, maybe not being able to function anymore because we didn’t have a place to rehearse.”

It’s too cold in the winter to practice at Springfield Barn in Byron Memorial Park, Kunkle said.

St. James Brethren Church on Lappans Road, the site of Sunday’s holiday concert, donated space for the band to rehearse on Sundays, Kunkle said.

As a thank you, the band made a small donation to the church Sunday.

The band performed a mix of holiday classics and jazz versions of holiday tunes.

Before the band performed “Carol of the Candle,” with Brett Smith singing, band Director Susie Kunkle said the song was being performed in tribute to Newtown, Conn.

The Connecticut town was the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history Friday when the shooter killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“We can relate to the seriousness of the problem,” Susie Kunkle told the audience.

Kunkle said the song was “our special tribute from our community to theirs. We will light one candle and send them our prayers,” she said as her voice broke.

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