First Presbyterian Church in Clarks Summit gets into the Mardi Gras spirit

By Ben Freda - For Abington Journal | March 1st, 2017 9:32 am

CLARKS SUMMIT - The spirit of New Orleans was prevalent at a Mardi Gras church service at First Presbyterian Church Feb. 26. Reverend Bill Carter boogied on the piano with a special edition band he put together called the South Abington Stompers.

Carter has continued this tradition as long he has been playing jazz music in the church for 25 years. Five years ago, Carter decided to entertain church members and guests with Dixieland music and colorful beads the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.

“I enjoy it as much as everybody else,” said Carter.

For the last four years, Ron Leas, trombone player for South Abington Stompers, and his son, Jeff Leas, who plays trumpet, have jazzed up the service with the jazzy sounds of their musical instruments.

“We fairly enjoy it,” said Ron. “It’s a pleasure to work with Bill Carter.”

Ron and Jeff also have an 8-piece band called The Ron Leas Big Band. They are always glad to perform with Carter for the Mardi Gras celebration.

“I feel fortunate to do it,” said Jeff. “Bill’s a very talented musician.”

Also in the South Abington Stompers were Christopher Benitez who plays bass for the South Abington Stompers and Dr. Katie Morell joined the band this year, playing the clarinet. This is the second time Benitez, who also plays bass in the Valley View High School Band, performed at the Mardi Gras service. He heard about the event from his aunt, Kay Ten Eyck, the church’s organist.

“It seems like a lot of fun,” he said.

Together, the Stompers played upbeat Dixieland music, mostly from musician Jelly Roll Morton. Richard Cochrane conducted the church’s handbell choir, which rang its bells to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.”

During the service, Carter spoke to children during Children’s Time, assuring them it’s okay to have fun in church. He also gave gold, green and purple glasses to band members to wear telling the children the musicians were “The Frozen Chosen” and the glasses would thaw them to get them to move.

A few church-goers wore Mardi Gras colors, masks and beads. Fred and Shar Lyon, who drove from their hometown of Clifford Twp. to attend the Mardi Gras service, enjoyed the event for the third time. They have been to New Orleans and saw firsthand the musicians at Preservation Hall where they heard the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

“It’s a mix of ages,” said Fred. “The other guys break in the younger guys to keep the tradition going for a long time. It’s amazing the difference in age the people that are playing.”

A reception at Fellowship Hall followed the church service with chocolate strawberries, cookies and other snacks.

Jeff Leas, left, performs Dixieland music with his father, Ron.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_20170226_100039.jpgJeff Leas, left, performs Dixieland music with his father, Ron. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Six-year-old Rebekah Naeher, of Clarks Summit, gives Jeff Leas Mardi Gras glasses to wear while performing.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_20170226_101822.jpgSix-year-old Rebekah Naeher, of Clarks Summit, gives Jeff Leas Mardi Gras glasses to wear while performing. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

The church’s handbell choir is conducted by Richard Cochrane, right. From left, are Bill Keller, Grace Brock, Laura Schillinger, Bev Bright, and Jody Cutler.

http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_20170226_101822.jpg

The church’s handbell choir is conducted by Richard Cochrane, right. From left, are Bill Keller, Grace Brock, Laura Schillinger, Bev Bright, and Jody Cutler. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Rev. Bill Carter offers a sermon during the service.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_20170226_103016.jpgRev. Bill Carter offers a sermon during the service. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Members of the South Abington Stompers are, from left, Christopher Benitez on bass, Rev. Bill Carter on piano, Dr. Katie Morell on clarinet, Jeff Leas on trumpet, and Ron Leas on trombone.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_20170226_105218.jpgMembers of the South Abington Stompers are, from left, Christopher Benitez on bass, Rev. Bill Carter on piano, Dr. Katie Morell on clarinet, Jeff Leas on trumpet, and Ron Leas on trombone. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Jeff Leas, left, performs Dixieland music with his father, Ron.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Mardi1.CMYIK_.jpgJeff Leas, left, performs Dixieland music with his father, Ron. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

The church’s handbell choir is conducted by Richard Cochrane, right. From left, are Bill Keller, Grace Brock, Laura Schillinger, Bev Bright, and Jody Cutler.

http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Mardi3.CMYK_.jpg

The church’s handbell choir is conducted by Richard Cochrane, right. From left, are Bill Keller, Grace Brock, Laura Schillinger, Bev Bright, and Jody Cutler. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Rev. Bill Carter offers a sermon during the service.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Mardi4.CMYK_.jpgRev. Bill Carter offers a sermon during the service. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Members of the South Abington Stompers are, from left, Christopher Benitez on bass, Rev. Bill Carter on piano, Dr. Katie Morell on clarinet, Jeff Leas on trumpet, and Ron Leas on trombone.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Mardi5.CMYK_.jpgMembers of the South Abington Stompers are, from left, Christopher Benitez on bass, Rev. Bill Carter on piano, Dr. Katie Morell on clarinet, Jeff Leas on trumpet, and Ron Leas on trombone. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Six-year-old Rebekah Naeher, of Clarks Summit, gives Jeff Leas Mardi Gras glasses to wear while performing.
http://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Mfrdi2.CMYK_.jpgSix-year-old Rebekah Naeher, of Clarks Summit, gives Jeff Leas Mardi Gras glasses to wear while performing. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

By Ben Freda

For Abington Journal

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at news@s24528.p831.sites.pressdns.com.


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