Arlingtones Barbershop Chorus creates heartwarming Valentine's memories on chilly day
With social distancing, the close harmony wasn't as close as usual.
And the trappings of the Palatine Gateway Center Garage were perhaps less than harmonious.
But on a bone-chilling day, the Arlingtones Barbershop Chorus delivered a heartwarming Valentine's Day message in song Sunday.
With the pandemic forcing them to call off the surprise, traveling singing valentines for which they're known, the chorus got innovative and instead hosted a drive-through Valentine's Day concert in the downtown Palatine parking garage. Three rotating quartets serenaded passengers from each vehicle that pulled up.
Singing in below-zero temperatures was a new experience for the group. They were bundled up for the occasion, but had to retreat to their vehicles from time to time to warm up.
The group, the Arlington Heights-based chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, was masked and color-coordinated with red scarves.
"This year we had to make a decision about Valentine's Day," member John Kent said. "We wanted to sing live. We didn't want to sing online. We didn't want to have a virtual Valentine's Day. There are other groups doing that.
"We had been practicing in the parking garage through the summer. And we really liked the sound. So we wanted to invite the public to warm up their Valentine's Day and at the same time have some fun on our own." Kent added.
Member Ron Bartsch of Northbrook called it an opportunity "to bring warmth and have an audience."
That audience included his wife, Gay, and daughter-in-law, Becky, who pulled up in separate cars to receive their serenades of "Let Me Call you Sweetheart" and "Heart of My Heart."
"They have amazing harmonies, and they are giving to the community. They are philanthropic and so entertaining," Becky Bartsch said.
Renee Tolnai of Skokie drove up with her mom, Judy LeComte, in the passenger seat.
"It was very pretty," LeComte said. "They did a lovely job."
Tolnai said she used to work for a the Glenview Senior Center and would hire the Arlingtones for Christmas parties.
"We love the Arlingtones. We follow them and we are very appreciative of their efforts to make some joy," she said.
Although the performance was free, the group accepted donations, with half the proceeds going to the Palatine Township Food Pantry.