Pratt Sing-along participants continue to gather for joke swapping and singing fun, more than 60 years after beginning what has become a long-standing fourth-Friday of the month tradition.
Like the brick streets and the Miss Kansas pageant, some traditions in Pratt continue strongly through the years. The Pratt Sing-along group, a local organization for more than 60 years, is one such tradition.
On the fourth Friday of every month, two dozen or so people gather at the Pratt Community Center Dining Hall to socialize a bit but more importantly, to sing.
Pianist Audeen Holland said she wasn’t sure of all the early history, but when she moved to Pratt in 1958, the Sing-along was already established. In the early days singers gathered at various churches and she recalled that Edwin Cook and his wife were early leaders. The late Rev. Loren Minnis was also one of the early leaders and the late Annabelle Washington was one of the first pianists.
On May 25, Holland was working the ivories, while a group of about a dozen singers joined voices from their seats at the dining tables. Among them was Roy Clark, math instructor at Pratt Community College, who served as the group’s emcee and also played harmonica.
Strains of “God Bless America” filled the room as singers paid tribute to the meaning of Memorial Day. Cliff Epley (likely one of the eldest members at age 96) played “Taps” on his harmonica. Soloist Gary Truhlar of Iuka sang “On the Wings of a Dove.”
Along with hymns, the singers favored country western music and this particular evening Loretta Looney played her accordion. Irene Norrish of Hutchinson played a piano medley of country favorites as well.
The group also paused for a devotional moment with an inspirational reading by Julie Mae Hembree. Sometimes, those present even swap jokes.
“It’s a happy, good time,” Holland said. “Anyone is welcome to come and join us!”
To join in, go to the Sen- ior Citizens center, at 7 p.m. on the fourth Friday of any month.
“If you don’t sing, come anyway, we love an audience,” Holland said.
Selections vary with the season, but there is always an underlying theme of camaraderie that sets the tone for a harmonious night out.