Holiday celebrations have taken place inside Mammoth Cave for more than 200 years, and this weekend the tradition will continue with the Cave Sing.
“It’s rooted in a deep tradition that dates back to the 1800s,” said Johnny Meredith, park ranger.
According to historical records, local residents planned a Christmas celebration in the cave in 1883. They sang carols and even used a 10 foot cedar tree for a Christmas tree, which they draped with ribbons and decorated with strands of popcorn, Meredith said.
Holiday celebrations took place in the cave for many years, but eventually the tradition was abandoned. In 1980, the tradition was brought back to life.
“They kind of rekindled the celebration to give people a chance to come in and experience the acoustics of the cave,” he said.
This year marks the 33rd anniversary for the Cave Sing, which will take place Sunday featuring the music of the Glasgow Brass Quintet and the a Capella sound of the Caveman Chorus.
The chorus is a barbershop-type musical group that has performed during the Cave Sing for many years.
“I think the first time we did it was in 1980,” said Fred Ganter, of Glasgow, and a member of the group. “We haven’t done it every year. We’ve done probably eight to 10 Christmases in the cave.”
Ganter and other members of the group enjoy performing at Mammoth Cave.
“It’s very nice,” he said. “It’s not like singing in an echo chamber, but it’s somewhat similar to that. Caves do have good natural acoustics.”
The chorus will perform in the cave’s Methodist Church section and is composed of 35 members who hale from all across southcentral Kentucky, including Barren, Warren, Allen, Logan and Monroe counties.
“We’re going to do about a 30 to 40-minute show,” Ganter said.
The group’s performance will feature traditional Christmas carols, which will be performed under the direction of Joel Guyer, the group’s new director.
Joining the Caveman Chorus will be the Bowling Green Singers, which is composed of nine people, including Guyer.
Also performing on Sunday in the cave will be the Glasgow Brass Quintet. The group will perform in the cave’s Rotunda.
“We are just for people’s entertainment on the way in,” said Randy Certain. Other members of the group are: Dr. Derek Oldenkamp, Dr. Butch Peterson, Shane Fant and Christy Wazelle.
“This is our fourth year, I believe, doing the Cave Sing,” said Certain, who said he also enjoys performing during the event.
What he likes about performing during the Cave Sing?
“Mostly the uniqueness of going down in the cave, but also being able to play for that many people and getting to wear helmet lights,” he said.
Certain explained the quintet wears the helmet lights to illuminate their sheet music during the performance.
The quintet will also be performing traditional Christmas music on Sunday, but for those who like a sampling of what the group will be performing they can stop by the gazebo on Glasgow’s public square on Thursday around 7 p.m. and listen to the members rehearse for the Cave Sing on Sunday.
Cave Sing Schedule
1:15 p.m. — storytelling at Mammoth Cave Hotel
2 p.m. — Departure from the visitor center to the cave
3:30 p.m. — Complimentary refreshments served at Mammoth Cave Hotel and a visit from Santa Claus.