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Dan Cracchiola poses with Levoie Hipps, dressed in his horse costume, in front of the Christmas tree.
Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 5 years ago

Singing Christmas tree comes to life

by: Rachel S. OHara Staff Photographer

FirstSarasota, the Downtown Baptist Church, is gearing up for the 38th annual Singing Christmas Tree performances that begin Friday, Dec. 2 and will run through Sunday, Dec. 11. Dan Cracchiola, associate pastor and minister of music, will be celebrating his 20th year being involved with the tree. He will once again be the conductor of the 40-piece orchestra.

The production requires a year’s worth of planning, and each year the Singing Christmas Tree Committee creates a completely new production.

“One song we always keep is ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas,’ because the crowd loves it so much,” said Cracchiola. “People actually call and ask to be seated in the ‘four calling birds section,’ and during the show the different groups get really competitive about who can be the loudest.”

This year’s show will feature 14 songs performed by the 40-piece orchestra and the 120-person choir. The metal tree that the church has used since 1986 holds the 120 choir members and sparkles with more than 20,000 lights. Cracchiola is excited to see how this year’s show will go over with the audiences.

“We have people who come from all over, and on our best Sunday we have had 700 to 800 people attend,” he says.

The annual show usually attracts 10,000 people throughout the run of the show.

“I truly love it,” said Cracchiola. “It just touches you, and it is a special thing.”

38 annual Singing Christmas Tree
What: FirstSarasota, the Downtown Baptist Church will hosts performances of the Singing Christmas Tree, made up of a 40-piece orchestra and 120-person choir.
When: Performances run from Friday, Dec. 2 though Sunday, Dec. 11 at various times.
Where: FirstSarasota, the Downtown Baptist Church, 1661 Main St.
Cost: $10 per person
Info: Call 365-2846 or visit

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