Don’t tell anyone, but the best job in the Boar’s Head Festival is being an usher. Jack Pott, Jim Grigsby, and Linda Fazio put in innumerable hours for 12 months. The heads of the committees work hard to pull all the pieces together in the weeks and months before January. Everyone involved in the festival works hard on Boar’s Head weekend, but only the ushers get to listen to the stories of the people who come into our sanctuary and are changed by our efforts. And their stories change us. Everyone who entered our church during Boar’s Head weekend had a story. Some have had a bad day, some a difficult year, some have had a very tough life. We have no idea when we greet them, hand them a program, and welcome them to the Festival what they are carrying with them.
I usually greet people at the end of the performance, thanking them for coming, wishing them a happy New Year, and when the line into Drew Hall backs up, we have conversations. “What did you like best?“ I often ask, and people tell me their stories.
After the Saturday evening performance, a woman with a lovely pink shawl around her shoulders said, “I came from Long Island to see this. I loved everything. The music, the dance, the costumes, the angel. I loved the way it just kept continuing. I felt like I was floating. It was spectacular. Thank you.” Her face was glowing as she described her experience. After talking with her more, I learned that she had recently lost her husband and it had been a difficult year. But what I saw her eyes was pure joy.
That’s what this church and the Boar’s Head Festival do for this community. We bring joy and a sense of peace and gratitude to people in a world that is a bit messy and broken.
Every year, Boar’s Head feels like I am coming home, because the music and the pageantry and the story feed my soul. I spend the weekend with old friends and new friends, all of us trying to do something beautiful for a moment, and sharing it with each other and anyone who chooses to join us.