Coping With Autumn Through Song

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Ugh. I hate Fall. I loathe it.

Shorter days, longer nights and dropping temperatures. No more beach, no more sun, no more three day weekends on the Cape. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to enjoy it much more since moving to Boston, but still, it’s a sign of things to come. I’m probably the only person who hates Labor Day because it means I’m going to have to start shoveling my driveway in a few months. In fact, it’s the end of September and I refuse to put away my beach towels. Needless to say I’m a glass half empty gal.

So when I was asked to cover Revels RiverSing, I was not the happiest camper. A celebration and sing along of all things celebrating the Autumnal Equinox was not my idea of a good time. The event began at Winthrop Park in Harvard Square. I walked over, begrudgingly ready to faux smile my way through the event.

As the sounds of a brass band grew louder, I caught myself humming along with their redemption of The O’Jay’s “For The Love Of Money”. ‘Okay, fine. This is a catchy tune,’ I thought to myself. In addition to the band, the park had stilt walkers, a one man band, and dozens of children running around and dancing. My smile turned real. Everyone was so happy to be there and celebrate.

Around 5:30 we were asked to form a line so we could march in a parade to the Charles River. A parade?!?! I had never been in a parade. And this parade had giant butterflies, more stilt walkers, banner, puppets and kids dancing. As we marched down the closed streets, people waved to us from the sidewalks. My step started to have a bounce. This was a strange feeling. The sun was setting, it was getting cold and I wasn’t grouchy. What was this feeling?

As we got to the river, the whole parade started singing “Down By The Riverside”. The parade of about 100 people was greeted by about 2,000 more people at the river. We took a seat on the ground and pulled out our programs and were welcomed by George Emlen, Musical Director of Revels.

After a poem by Cambridge Poet Populist Toni Bee, the entire group sang “This Land Is Your Land”. To keep the momentum going, the Riversing Children’s Chorus came out and joined the Riversing Chorus in singing “Michael, Row The Boat Ashore”. After that, the novelty of singing along to songs I didn’t know started to lose its luster. But the joy in the other Revelers’ eyes is what kept me at the event. While I’m not someone to say “Let’s go to the river to sing about Autumn,” these people are. All the people who attended this event were excited to be there and their joy was contagious.

Alan Casso, Marketing & Public Relations, for Revels said that this was the 9th annual RiverSing event. Revels, which has been around since 1971, partnered with the Charles River Consercancy in 2004 but are now the sole producers for this annual event. Revels RiverSing was created to celebrate the changing from Summer to Autumn the way communities have always done, through song and dance.

Throughout the sing-a-long, members or the Actors’ Shakespeare Project would do readings of poems from Keats to Sandburg commemorating Autumn. This was a nice break between attempting to sing along to songs that I did not know. Did you guys know the song “Erie Canal”? Am I the only on who doesn’t know that song?

Throughout the event the one thing that kept me excited to stay there was everyone else’s enjoyment. People were dancing with their children, puppets continually walked along the edges of the event and couples were sitting back, enjoying some cheese and wine. Watching the sun set over the Charles as we sang “When the Saints Go Marching In” was a great way to say goodbye to summer.

I guess it’s time to take my sweaters out of storage.