Patriotic voices praise U.S. protectors


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Indian River Colony Club Chorus president George Darpus, left, Jacqui Bermani, Carmen Nizzi-Santiago, director Kathy Westrip, accompanist Edith Schrope, Jack Garfield and other members rehearse for the May 16 performance for IRCC residents only

Linda Wiggins

Strong voices in the Indian River Colony Club Chorus will again be raised in patriotic praise at the annual Armed Forces Day concert.

Nearly 300 residents are expected at the event featuring a full slate of rousing songs to be held at 5:15 p.m. May 16.

“The chorus celebrated 25 years a couple of years ago and we have a couple of members that have been with us the whole time,’’ said publicity chairman Jacqui Bermani, a member for six years.

The 35-to-40-member group holds two concerts a year, including a performance during the Christmas season. They practice from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Thursday.

“It’s just all of us getting together and having a good time singing,’’ Bermani said.

The Armed Forces salute will include Melbourne High School freshman and JROTC member Colin Patterson on trumpet. Songs include “Salute to the Armed Forces,” “Song to the Unsung Hero,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (sung by the women) and a finale of “You Are My Sunshine” ending with “God Bless America.”

“We do a lot of audience sing-alongs,’’ Bermani said.

The music director is Kathy Westrip, who was hired from the outside, and the group is accompanied by resident pianist Edith Schrope. Most of the chorus members, and the community, are military retirees.

All chorus members are retired and represent seniors ranging in age from 60 to about 90, she said.

As members come and go or age out due to health problems, other volunteer singers are waiting and willing to step in and fill the spot to keep the chorus active and singing out, Bermani said.

“It’s a wide range and it pretty much stays that way. We have some incredible voices and this year the men especially are very strong,’’ she said.