As the cold night air filtered down, their voices rose, as they sang centuries-old songs under the glow of downtown's Christmas lights.
Carolers filled the Plaza with song two days before Christmas under the glow of downtown Christmas lights.
About 60 people attended the fourth annual community caroling event Tuesday night, according to an estimate by Dwayne Robinson, a pastor at Ashland First Baptist Church who led the group in song.
"It's a way for families and the community to sing together," he said during a break from the carols. "We just invite anybody to come and we just want to sing Christmas songs and bless people."
Gripping songbooks and cups of hot chocolate, the steam rising over their faces, they belted out "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "Deck the Halls," "Joy to the World" and other classic tunes.
They sang a cappella — without instrumental accompaniment — and in between carols, families and friends mingled or munched on nuts and candy from the goodie bags the church gave out.
"We saw this in the paper and thought we should come because this is our first Christmas with our granddaughter Emily and we're trying to make it about experiences as much as possible, and not about commercial things," said Myron Hauser, a Central Point resident who drove down for the caroling with family, including his daughter Stacey and her 2-year-old daughter Emily, who was adopted from China this year.
"It's all about the lights, the carols and the treats, this year," Stacey said, holding her daughter who was clutching a giant lollypop. "It's not commercial at all because she doesn't understand about getting toys yet."
Tuesday night was the first time the Hobbs family — who moved to Ashland this year from London — had caroled in the U.S., said 11-year-old Jack Hobbs.
"I wanted to come because singing Christmas songs is really fun," he said.
For his mother, Karen Hobbs, it was a way to embrace the season as a family, she said.
"I like the idea of coming together under all the Christmas lights and it kind of kick-starts Christmas because I'm not ready yet!" she said.
Mada Morgan, a Southern Oregon University professor, and her friend Cora Sargent came out for caroling to experience the season Ashland-style, Morgan said.
"I've been here since 1999 and I've never come to caroling night," she said. "It just sounded like a very Ashland evening to me and it has turned out to be a very Ashland evening. Ashland has permeable boundaries and it's easy to join in any sort of celebration without anybody questioning why or how — it's very open."
However, not everyone from Morgan's group, which included Sargent's children and grandchildren, joined in the caroling.
"We wanted the kids to see the lights, but they went off with my brother to do last-minute Christmas shopping somewhere downtown," said Elizabeth Sargent, Cora's daughter.
Staff writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.