Dowagiac middle, high school vocalists to perform downtown Dec. 7

Published 4:46 pm Friday, December 1, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac middle and high school choir members are among the musicians headlining downtown’s Extended Hours Holiday Shopping Event on Thursday, Dec. 7.

The choir will be joined by Jolly ‘Ole St. Nick along with Dowagiac graduate and clarinetist Sara Torbet, and vocalists Mary and Jeff Neumann.

The third-annual Extended Hours Holiday Shopping Event, hosted by specialty shops, was organized by Vickie Phillipson, owner of Cottage Gallery, and Claudia Zebell, owner of Rosy Tomorrows. The evening of music, merriment and personalized shopping runs from 5 to 7 p.m.

“We are delighted to host this special night of shopping beneath the holiday lights of our central business district,” Phillipson said. “Customers will enjoy personalized service at each of our specialty shops, some of which will offer savings, treats and beverages.”

Vocalists Jeff and Mary Neumann have played music and provided leadership groups and special events since 1984. Specializing in praise and worship, they have performed in dozens of area churches and have volunteered in multiple venues, providing entertainment, ministry and inspiration. 

Mary is an accomplished pianist and piano teacher. For the downtown holiday promotion, Jeff will provide accompaniment on guitar. During her high school career, Sara Torbet participated in both band and theatre. The nursing student at Southwestern Michigan College continues to play clarinet in her spare time.

“I’m excited to continue to participate in Dowagiac events and doing what I love,” Torbet said. “I look foward to getting everyone in the Christmas spirit.” 

Under the direction of Hunter Schuur, middle and high school choir members will also bring holiday music to the streets. Schuur, who is in his fourth year of teaching, is a Dowagiac native and a 2013 DUHS graduate.

“It has been my dream since seventh grade to be a choir director,” Schuur said. “It’s special for me to be able to continue participating in events in our community.”

Schuur has grown the choir from 78 to 120 students in grades sixth through 12th grade.

“Caroling downtown is a volunteer event students from the middle and high school can


“It is such an honor to be asked back to carol, which benefits all of the small businesses in our beautiful downtown,” Schuur said. “One of the things I strive to instill in our students is the importance of being involved in and giving back to their community, which does so much to support us.”

“Dec. 7 will be a fun night for us to spend together singing and enjoying each other’s company and the community,” Schuur said. “We look forward to spreading joy to others. We will even have parents and grandparents join us, as we carol from business to business.”

Phillipson encouraged families to bring their children to see Santa, who will be available

for photos from 5 to 6 p.m. at Venue 132, located next to Caruso’s Candy Kitchen. From 6 to 7 p.m. Santa will then join musicians on the street, as they stroll in and out of businesses.

The special night of merriment also features a fresh evergreen wreath-making class at Venue 132. The hands-on class from 6:30 to 8 p.m. will be presented by Flowerfield Farmstead, a small-scale flower and vegetable farm in Three Rivers.

The cost of the class is $70, which includes refreshments, fresh evergreens and adornments. Advance registration is required by calling Michelle Milnamow at (269) 262-1444 or by visiting Space is limited.

Specialty shops participating in the Dec. 7 extended hours promotion include: The Baker’s Rhapsody, Caruso’s Candy Kitchen, Cottage Gallery, Deck the Halls, Dowagiac Pharmacy, The Marshall Shop, Oh My Old Made New, Olympia Books, Rosy Tomorrows, Salted Words on Division Street, Venue 132, Who Knew? Consignment and Yarn on Front.

Phillipson said the Dec. 7 evening of music, merriment and shopping can be wrapped up by dining at any one of Dowagiac’s fine and casual dining restaurants, all of which will be open for the event.