A "silent night" as carolers told to stop singing at skating show
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) -- A high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols during an ice skating show featuring Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen out of concern the skater would be offended because she's Jewish.
A city staff member, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and requested that the troupe stop singing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.
Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist and 2006 U.S. National Champion, had just finished her performance at the rink on the downtown pedestrian mall, and was signing autographs.
Choir director Staci Della-Rocco said she complied with the request "because a policeman told me to stop. I didn't want to have a big old huge scene in front of my kids," according to the newspaper.
The city staff member, special-events employee Michelle Baldwin, could not be reached for comment. City Development Director Belinda J. Graham confirmed the incident.
"This request was simply made by a staff member who was attempting to be sensitive to the celebrity guest, without considering the wider implications ... or consulting with her supervisor for guidance," Graham said in an e-mail to the newspaper.
Mayor Ron Loveridge called the incident "unfortunate."
"You kind of wish people do a little checking first. You certainly have my apology," he said, referring to the choir members. A spokeswoman with the New York-based PR firm that helped promote the event said Cohen did not make the request to silence the singers.
This is ridiculous - Cohen may be Jewish but she is a skating professional and has skated in many events especially popular around Christmas and/or Hannukah which begins this weekend.... I wouldn't be surprised if she has skated to many Christmas-sy songs herself....especially when the group at the end of an exhibition does some ensemble work together.
The whole PC finger wagging was way out of line - especially embarrassing a group of high school choir members who were probably enjoying their night out... What is embarrassing is the hip-hop rap crap high school kids are allowed to listen to - which should be considered more offensive to the educators of our day - who look the other way when it comes to preferred teen "music".