MONTVILLE, NJ - A group of Montville women have been getting together for the last six years to spread a little holiday cheer in their Cooks Farm Road neighborhood by venturing out in the cold to sing Christmas carols to their neighbors and friends.

It all started one day when Tara Merlino and Letitia Mandola were reminiscing about the exciting things they did as children during the holidays. One of the fun traditions was going Christmas caroling. They looked at each other and said, “Why not.” And that’s all it took to get the ball rolling. 

Merlino and Mandola said that in the beginning there were only a few women, but each year the group got bigger and bigger. This year there were 14 happy and excited women having appetizers at Merlino’s home as they were getting ready to hit the streets with their cheer and voices.

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Merlino explained during the second year, one family came out pouring glasses of wine for everyone, and that started a tradition where some neighbors provide hot and cold beverages for the carolers. This year four families hosted the ladies with eggnog and more. 

Mandola, a retired lieutenant of the Montville Township Police Department, said, “I love it because it is bringing back a tradition that has been lost.”

Merlino, an employee of Gallo Wines, explained that she looks forward to hosting the before and after parties each year. She said, “The numbers keep growing. The ladies enjoy appetizers before the singing, and afterwards, they all come back to my house for a dessert table. People start asking me for the caroling date months ahead of time.”

Janine Pompeo said, “I look forward to this tradition every year.”

The women come from all lines of work and backgrounds. The other carolers are Karen Arakelian from White House Furniture and founder of the Gloria Foundation, a non-profit organization against domestic violence, Carol Da Costa, captain of the Montville Fire Department and a volunteer on the township’s first aid squad, Diane Markley, realtor, Tracy Metz, math teacher, Barbara Mickowski and Irene Tanchak of “Montville Moms,” Anita Shine, a stay at home mom, Grace Kelly Arlotta, a cancer warrior/survivor and super mom, Lisa LoBiondo, a mom, entrepreneur and in network marketing, Ozzie LaScala, hairdresser and Rose Sullivan, an administrative assistant.

All carolers are provided with song books including songs like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” “Holy Jolly Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and many more.

The women are looking forward to doing it all again next year.

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