SALT LAKE CITY — Families poured into the Vivint Smart Home Arena, many of them donning Santa Claus hats, ready to belt out some of the most beloved holiday classics Monday at the annual Christmas Carol Sing-along.
Thousands of children, their parents and other carolers joined in to sing "Deck The Halls," "Jingle Bells" and "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" along with several more favorite tunes.
"The kids love it, it's just fun to see your kids enjoy the holiday spirit," said Chelsey King, who was in town from Colorado to visit family but has attended the production in the past. "My 2-year-old danced to the entire thing."
Young and old alike waved the flashlights on their phones back and forth to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Dancing children filled the aisles as the West Valley Symphony of Utah played "A Sleigh Ride Together" at the free event.
"It was really fun watching the kids dance up and down the aisle (to the stage)," said Teresa Howe, of Kaysville, who came with her grandkids as part of a nearly decade-old family tradition. "It's a good, free gift."
Jenny Oaks Baker, a Grammy-nominated violinist who hails from Salt Lake City, was the night's featured performer. Baker performed some Christmas carols alongside her four children, who are also known as the Family Four music group, including a rendition of "Ding Dong Merrily On High."
The West Valley Symphony of Utah also treated the crowd to more hymn-like songs such as "I Saw Three Ships" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful." By far the biggest cheer of the night, though, was when Santa Claus himself stepped into the arena, suited up in his red garb. A throng of children mobbed Jolly ol' Saint Nick as he made his way to the stage.
"Her favorite part was definitely Santa coming in," said Howe of her toddler granddaughter, adding her other grandkids were most excited to dance their hardest for a chance at being shown on the Jumbotron.
The Christmas Carol Sing-a-long has been ongoing for 32 years, including the last 17 at the home of the Utah Jazz. The 20,000-person capacity Vivint Arena was at least half full for Monday's celebration, put on by Gail Miller, owner and CE0 of the Jazz, and her family.
"There are many miracles that happen this time of the year. ... My Christmas wish this year for your family is for you to see those Christmas miracles and share them with everyone you know," Miller told the crowd.
Megan and Adam Leafty have made it a family tradition for the past three years to make their way down from Ogden to visit the Christmas Carol Sing-along. Two of their young boys have autism, they said, and they love to move around to music.
"Our family loves sing-alongs," Adam Leafty said. "It's a really great way to get our family out."
Others tried the sing-along for the first time this year, hoping to add an extra measure of Christmas spirit to their holiday season.
"(It was a good experience), especially seeing other people, the whole community, say 'Hey, we're excited about Christmas too,'" said Nate Behunin, who came from Bountiful with his wife, Kylee, and their two children.