Do you think Danny Klingenberg was excited about meeting Elmo?
Adrianna Garcia took her role of playing the bells very seriously, and Mom Maria Garcia found the whole moment a tender one.
"Okay, we are going to start in about two minutes. If you are going to be ringing bells, make sure you have one."
And with that announcement by teacher Virginia Perez, children, parents, teachers and aides in the Infant Development Program (IDP) at the Richardson Center, readied for their first foray into the world of professional audio recording. The date was Dec. 8. The place - American Sound Recording Studio in Bakersfield. The gig - record a holiday music program featuring more than 200 people all gathered in one studio. The goal - burn enough CD copies so that everyone who participated and their families would have a memorable treasure for these holidays and beyond.
Two Richardson Center staffers get credit for the idea - Perez, who teaches IDP children and Betsy Lackey, a school nurse in the same program. Lackey really had the "in." Her nephew, Brian Boozer, is a manager at the recording studio. He convinced his bosses, in the spirit of the holidays, to let the Richardson performers record their program at no cost.
Planning got very festive after Lackey received that news.
"We wanted our infants to have a chance to be out in the community for the holidays where they could have fun and be exposed to informational experiences," Lackey said. "And American Sound Recording Studio’s gift of the season gave us a chance to do all that in a very special venue."
Children in IDP have been identified as having disabilities and are part of an early childhood education intervention program, operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
What a time the young ones had. The music was pumped into the studio by sound engineers in the control room, and the Richardson performers went through two dry run rehearsals of "Jingle Bells" and "Felice Navidad" to make sure everyone was relaxed, knew their parts and was ready to go when Perez gave them the signal.
When she did, it was a cornucopia of pleasurable sights and sounds that would have put Scrooge himself into the holiday spirit. Little Aiden Gomez was smiling from ear-to-ear ringing his bells to the music, as Grandma Esther Gomez and Aunt Rebecca Gomez beamed with pride and enjoyment.
Classmate Kyralisa Riel stood out resplendently in the crowd, dressed in formal holiday attire that might have modeled as a Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell. Taking the recording very seriously, youngster Adrianna Garcia kept focused on her role, listening intently so her bell ringing would stay in sequence with the music. Mom Maria Garcia, held her daughter close, giving her several reassuring hugs of admiration.
Once the music stopped, there were more surprises. The studio doors opened and in walked the biggest heroes a child could ever hope to meet - Elmo and The Cookie Monster, carrying trays of cookies. Each of the children was hoping for the ultimate gift, a cookie from one these TV favorites, a hug and a chance to sit on their knee. Many got that chance, including Danny Klingenberg who just kept laughing and pointing, not believing he was getting this rare opportunity to meet Elmo. Given the same chance, Raven Villanueva just relaxed, looked out at Mom and gave her a big smile.
The holidays came early, but everyone in that recording studio was ready.
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