Unsilent Night NYC: This Saturday, December 12!

Christmas festivities 

The fabulously festive Unsilent Night, composer Phil Kline’s annual boombox “caroling” parade through the East Village, has become as much a part the New York City holiday landscape as visiting Santa at Macy’s, or the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree. Well, maybe not… but we prefer it that way. Now in its 18th year (and, in 2009, it will be conducted in 25 cities around the world, from San Diego to Melbourne to the Yukon), Unsilent Night is Kline’s–and, so, each participant’s–magical electronic holiday card to the downtown neighborhood we love.  

Christmas festivities 

Here’s how it works: this Saturday, December 12, starting at 6:30, some 1,500 holiday revelers–including lots of kids–will show up Washington Square, portable boombox in hand. Phil Kline will hand out as many cassettes and CD’s as he can carry, the whole crowd will hit “play” at the exact same time, and then everyone will parade through the Village, floating on “a cloud of sound” a mile away to Tompkins Square Park. The piece lasts 44 minutes, it sounds different to each listener–depending on which part you’re playing, and the density of other marchers around you at any given moment–and it is an experience you (and, if applicable, your children) will never forget.

Christmas festivities 

We’ve been to several Unsilent Nights through the years, and enjoy so much about it: the beautiful tree in Washington Square Park, and the giddy atmosphere as the marchers assemble; the surprised and delighted looks from the shoppers and locals and tourists and workers as we make our way through the East Village streets; the music itself, which builds and swirls and shouts and always, in certain parts and when the happy procession is at its most thick, gives us goosebumps.

Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night details

The annual Unsilent Night parade will be held this Saturday, December 12, beginning in Washington Square Park promptly at 7:00 p.m. To participate, please arrive around 6:30 – 6:45, and bring a boombox that can play either cassettes or CDs. You may also download an MP3 of the piece prior to the proceedings. For complete details, go to the Unsilent Night website, here.  

Bonus holiday alterna-traditions alert!

Two other slightly unusual holiday rituals are also happening this weekend: on Saturday it’s Santacon (basically: dress up as Claus and carouse through the city with hundreds of other jolly souls), and Sunday is the TubaChristmas concert at Rockefeller Center.

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