The Disneyland Candlelight Processional is an annual tradition dating back to the early days of Disneyland. Through the years, there have been many celebrity narrators that have climbed the podium in front of a mass choir, orchestra, soloists, trumpeters, and handbell choir to read the story of Christmas.
This year, the narrator was Sterling K. Brown. Brown who currently appears in This is Us on television and has also appeared in movies like Black Panther and Frozen II clearly was enjoying the experience right from the beginning during the mic check. The DAPS MAGIC team began waiting much earlier in the day to get good spots for filming and photographing the event.
As has been the custom for many years, people began to wait for the Candlelight Processional when the park opened. As the day progressed, more people joined for the wait. By the time the mic check happened in the late afternoon, there was quite the crowd formed in the standby areas to cheer on Brown. As Brown hopped up the stairs, he clearly seemed to be enjoying himself as he waved to those who were waiting. It took a few minutes before his mic worked, but once it did, he had some fun with this newfound power and made some jokes about it.
The processional itself began around 5:30. As the choir processed up into place, it was clear that it wasn’t the same size as previous years. There were also no youth choirs or soloists included in this year’s Candlelight Processional. However, this did not detract from the beauty of this ceremony. After the opening song, Sterling K. Brown made his way up the podium and began to share the story of Christmas. His delivery was energetic and heartfelt. He clearly was connected to the story and the music that helped tell it. Multiple times throughout the ceremony, Brown could. be seen getting into the music. He also reacted after songs he was particularly moved by.
The music this year did have a few changes from recent years. Away in a Manger, which in recent years has had a child soloist, was replaced with John Rutter’s Candlelight Carol. This piece had appeared in the ceremony before. This time around there were no soloists for the song though. There were also no students in any of the choirs this year. Only adults were a part of the mass choir. There were multiple alumni choirs that made up the mass choir.
Brown’s energy was infectious as he continued to make his way through the story of Christmas. It would be hard to find a happier or more enthusiastic narrator than Brown. Toward’s the end of the ceremony, he got excited and jumped the gun on a portion of the narration. When corrected, his reaction was authentic, hilarious, and endearing. He admitted how excited he was and then after making some hilarious faces, yielded to the voice of Disneyland Bill Rogers. When it was his turn, he nailed the lines once again. This time, however, they were in the proper place. Upon finishing, the beautiful orchestra under the direction of Nancy Sulahian played a postlude medley of holiday music followed by Sleigh Ride.
The return of the Candlelight Processional to the Disneyland Resort is one more step towards normalcy after the opening of the Disneyland Resort earlier this year. After the parks were closed for over a year, the Candlelight Processional’s return was like a warm blanket of comfort and nostalgia for those in attendance. The Christmas spirit was in the air throughout the whole day as people returned to Town Square for this beloved tradition.
The Candlelight Processional is an absolutely beautiful tradition that for many, is the start of the Christmas season. For others, it is a must-do part of their Christmas tradition that has been for many years. Still, others were able to see Candlelight for the first time. This year, in particular, it seemed like there was even more appreciation for the ceremony and people enjoyed it even more than usual. Its message of joy, peace, and love seemed to resonate particularly strongly among those in attendance. As the ceremony wound down and season’s greetings were shared, cheers could be heard throughout Town Square. The spirit of the season Sterling K. Brown and the musicians shared with those in attendance was carried out by all into the night. It was a beautiful night and as a beautiful tradition continued on at the Disneyland Resort.