When Katie Heuer was 9, only the tuba satisfied her musical ear.
Her family tried to convince her to play another instrument more suited for her size, but she couldn't get her mind off that shiny tuba.
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If you goWhat: Tuba Christmas
When: 11 a.m. in Naperville, 1 p.m. in Aurora
Where: Outdoors at Naperville's U.S. Bank, Jefferson Avenue at Washington Street; indoors at Aurora's Westfield Fox Valley mall
Cost: $5 registration fee for tuba, euphonium and baritone players; free to watch
"The tuba makes the most of sound," said Heuer, now 33.
She's been showcasing her favorite instrument at Naperville's Tuba Christmas almost every year since she was 11.
Performing at this year's holiday concert will be a family affair for Heuer. Her dad and husband will be playing, and her 8-week-old daughter will be listening in the crowd Saturday, Dec. 10, to the "mellow" tuba tunes.
"She's used to it already," Heuer said of her daughter.
Weather permitting, organizers expect almost 100 tuba, euphonium and baritone players will perform at 11 a.m. outside Naperville's U.S. Bank, Jefferson Avenue at Washington Street. They'll also play indoors at 1 p.m. in the lower level at Aurora's Westfield Fox Valley mall.
Naperville Municipal Band Director Ron Keller started Tuba Christmas in Naperville 30 years ago because he likes to promote his favorite instrument. He also started playing at a young age -- in the third grade, in fact.
"You're reinforcing sound," Keller, 72, said. "It makes everything sound better."
He remembered one Tuba Christmas when icy temperatures plummeted to 13 degrees and tuba valves froze.
Despite sometimes frosty weather, crowds still gather to listen and sing along to Christmas classics like "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night."
The players' rendition of "Jingle Bells," infused with a portion of the "National Emblem March," is a staple arrangement and a crowd favorite, he said.
"You can see their faces light up," Keller said.
Players can register for $5 from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Naperville Community Concert Center in downtown's Central Park, 104 E. Benton Ave. Keller noted that last year's musicians ranged in age from 10 to 83.
Heuer hopes the kids in the group can learn a lesson.
"You can do music for a lifetime," she said.