Angel Procession spreads joy of Christmas music at SMHC — for last time at old hosptial

Brett Baker, a newly mobile “angel,” makes a break for it during a group photo Sunday night before St. Mary’s Health Center holds its annual Angel Procession. Inset below, the role of holding the baby Jesus is typically reserved for the older children; this year, a pair of twins shared the honor.

Brett Baker, a newly mobile “angel,” makes a break for it during a group photo Sunday night before St. Mary’s Health Center holds its annual Angel Procession. Inset below, the role of holding the baby Jesus is typically reserved for the older children; this year, a pair of twins shared the honor.

As nearly two dozen children dressed as angels began singing in St. Mary’s emergency room Sunday night, a blonde girl in a wheelchair — a patient — perked up and joined the group in singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Even a man in an orange jumpsuit and shackles quietly watched along with his escort — a Cole County sheriff’s deputy — as the children walked by, holding up battery-powered candles and song sheets.

For nearly 60 years, St. Mary’s Health Center has held an annual Angel Procession to put smiles on the faces of patients, visitors and hospital workers.

“It’s just to bring some joy to our patients and some Christmas cheer,” said Janie Frank, a registered nurse at the hospital and a coordinator of the event. “Some of the patients are really sick. It just brings a smile to their faces.”

The singers, most of whom are elementary school students, are the children and grandchildren of hospital employees.

“I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember,” said Emma Brix, 9. “I get to sing, and I know it’s good for everyone in the hospital.”

“I like to make the people happy. It’s fun,” added Destini Duren, 8.

In the intensive care unit waiting room, a few family members of loved ones in the ICU were watching the Chiefs-Broncos game. But they put the game on hold when the singers came to serenade them with “Deck the Halls.”

“Any requests?” asked hospital spokeswoman Heather Feeler before the song.

“Whatever you’re singing,” a man in ICU waiting answered. “That is beautiful.”

This is the last year the hospital will likely hold the event at the same location. The hospital, built in 1905, is relocating late next year to Missouri 179.

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