[PHOTOS] Christmas Carolers Bring Cheer to Ferguson After City Cancels Holiday Parade

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Liam Maupin helps spread the Christmas cheer in front of the Ferguson Fire Station on South Florissant Road. - ALL PHOTOS BY KELLY GLUECK
  • All photos by Kelly Glueck
  • Liam Maupin helps spread the Christmas cheer in front of the Ferguson Fire Station on South Florissant Road.

The Internet is awash with images of Ferguson burning, of police cracking down on demonstrations, of protesters making their stands in the streets. The months-long protests have drawn national attention to policing issues, race relations and to the St. Louis suburb where it all started.

There's more to this vibrant, diverse town than unrest and violence, so when a group of St. Louis-area volunteers organized a night of Christmas caroling in Ferguson last weekend, they were met with cheers and applause by those who call Ferguson home.

"Things have just been so rough lately," says Vicki Salsman, whose family has lived in Ferguson for 70 years. The carolers stopped in front of her house Saturday night after singing at the Shop 'N Save and the Ferguson fire house. "It's so nice to see something positive. Whatever it takes to bring peace back here."

Born and raised in Ferguson, resident Vicki Salsman clasps her hands to her face in joy as Maxine Harris and the other carolers sing.
  • Born and raised in Ferguson, resident Vicki Salsman clasps her hands to her face in joy as Maxine Harris and the other carolers sing.

The idea started when Max Harris, 29, saw an online video of a girl singing carols in New York.

"I was like, 'Wow, it would be a really good idea to get a Christmas caroling group together in Ferguson,'" Harris tells Daily RFT. "People were like, 'Stop talking about it and do it!'"

What Harris didn't realize was that organizers had recently canceled the popular holiday parade at last week's Ferguson Citywalk Northern Lights Celebration, and the city's beloved fifteen-year-old StreetFest was postponed in September.

See also: Ferguson Postpones Popular Festival, Residents Blame "Illegal Protesters"

Maxine Harris (in pink) and other carolers sing outside of a Ferguson resident's home.
  • Maxine Harris (in pink) and other carolers sing outside of a Ferguson resident's home.

Harris' idea to bring a group of holiday carolers fit right in as a new, bonus celebration in the midst of so many cancellations, so she started organizing it using a Facebook group and event.

"This town is really ready to move past that and be known for something other than that," Harris says. "Let's show the world what St. Louis is really about and come together. I just want to see people of all races, all walks of life, everybody just put your differences aside. It's Christmas."

Jesse Kirk and Ray Carter sing in front of the Ferguson Fire Station on South Florissant Rd after handing out candy to local residents and fellow carolers.
  • Jesse Kirk and Ray Carter sing in front of the Ferguson Fire Station on South Florissant Rd after handing out candy to local residents and fellow carolers.
Jessica Crotzer and Colt Pisciotta sing in front of the Ferguson Fire Station on South Florissant Road.
  • Jessica Crotzer and Colt Pisciotta sing in front of the Ferguson Fire Station on South Florissant Road.

Harris got permission from the Ferguson Police Department for her caroling expedition, through her interaction with officers revealed how life has changed here.

"The police said, 'You should march south,'" Harris remembers. "I was like, 'Oh no, no, no, this is not a march. No, we're just singing normal Christmas songs.' The only deviation is we might do 'Jingle Bells' with 'Batman smells.'"

Photos and additional reporting by Kelly Glueck.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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