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Grand Rapids' Sweet Adelines invited to perform at 80th Anniversary Pearl Harbor concert

While celebrating their 70th anniversary of entertaining audiences, the Sweet Adelines found out they were among 10 nationwide chorus groups to go to Hawaii.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This year marks the 70th year that the Grand Rapids Chapter of the Sweet Adelines Chorus has been entertaining audiences.

But that won't be the only milestone anniversary they'll be participating in this year. 

The legendary group of women singers recently became one of only ten choruses nationwide invited to perform at the Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary Commemoration Concert Series, in Honolulu on December 7 of this year.

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The Grand Rapids Sweet Adelines Chorus is among only 10 choral groups nationwide who received an invite to sing in the Pearl Harbor concert.

"When I found out we were invited, I was in disbelief at first," said Denise VanDyken, who has been directing the 60-member Sweet Adelines chorus for the past ten years. "Everybody is just thrilled."

VanDyken says the official invite came via mail, directly from Kirk Caldwell, who is the Mayor of Honolulu, HI. The group decided to sit on the information for a couple months, VanDyken added, because their participation was dependent solely on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: 13 ON YOUR SIDE
The official invite was sent from The Honorable Kirk Caldwell, Mayor of Honolulu, HI., and Music Celebrations International.

"We fly out December 4th and return December 8th," said VanDyken. "The majority of our performances will be on December 7th."

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the naval base at Pearl Harbor, on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.

Credit: Domain
1,102 sailors and Marines remain entombed on the USS Arizona battleship, which was destroyed by the Japanese during the Pearl Harbor airstrike.

The deadly attack marked the beginning of World War II.

A total of 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. 

"What an emotional experience it will be for us," said Colleen Pierson, who is in her 4th year singing with the Sweet Adelines. "Many of our members have husbands, have fathers that have served in the military, so it's such an important connection to them."

Credit: Domain
During their trip to Hawaii, the Sweet Adelines will have an opportunity to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and lay a wreath on the USS Arizona.

As invited participants, the group will have a chance to go to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and lay a wreath on the USS Arizona, which still lays beneath the water's surface, with the souls of 1,102 sailors and Marines entombed. 

"It's beyond words to express how proud I am of my chorus that we were able to get this kind of recognition," said VanDyken. "It'll be a thrill to be there."

VanDyken says the group hopes to start rehearsing in-person for the event sometime this summer, once more COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. Meantime, the Adelines will continue weekly rehearsals using Zoom.

If you're interested in learning more about the Sweet Adelines Chorus, or perhaps become a member, click HERE and you will be taken directly to their website.

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