Sneakin Beacon Strikes Again


Kathy Clayton

The Ashland Beacon


   The Sneakin Beacon tradition continued this week, with well-known musicians from around the region singing carols and hymns to nursing home residents as the Beacon family chimed in, while handing out warm blankets.

   This year’s activities continued on without the presence of one of the founders of the event, Bronson Bush, who was sick and unable to attend. Kelsie May and Tyler Booth, both of whom have joined Bush for the community service before, filled in admirably.

   “This is about our ninth year of caroling at local nursing homes and handing out blankets,” said publisher Philip Stewart. “We are so grated for these singers who volunteer their time to come out here with us. And we all enjoy this so much – seeing the residents, and watching them enjoy the music. This year, we’re really missing Bronson. He’s been with us almost every year.”

   May and Booth both brought guitars and played and sang familiar carols, hymns and other tunes. As the musicians tuned up in the lobby at Kingsbrook care facility, a woman in a wheelchair entered the 

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   “Were you guys here last year?” she asked. “Did you come and sing ‘Hallelujah?’ I was here and that was wonderful! I love that song!” She said her name is Ernestine “Ernie” Harris, and she asked to have her photo taken with Tyler and Kelsie.

   The group sneaked into the activities room to serenade a group of residents playing games around a table. “One of the reasons we do this is the main reason for the season, a blessing we were given a long time ago – Jesus,” said Stewart as he introduced the performers to the crowd. “This is Kelsie May, she was on The Voice a few seasons ago. This is Tyler Booth, a new Sony recording artist. He has a couple of new singles out, include ‘Long Comes a Girl.’ He might sing a few country songs along with the Christmas songs.”

   May started the caroling off with ‘O Holy Night,’ accompanying herself on the guitar. Then Booth performed ‘Hallelujah,’ the Leonard Cohen classic. Both tunes are favorites with the residents, as well as the staff of the facilities who also come to listen.

   The singers moved on down the hallways, stopping in residents’ rooms to sing and deliver blankets. Resident Jonda Bartlett asked for someone to come sing with her, and Riley Williams, the youngest member of the Beacon bunch, stood next to her bedside as Kelsie and Tyler performed more favorites.

   McKinley Wright was delighted when the group entered his room to sing. “I’ve been into music my whole life,” he said. “I used to travel all around Georgia singing. This brings back so many memories. You guys are really good.”

   After the Kingsbrook visit, the group moved to other facilities, including Trinity Station, where Kelsie sang ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ at the request of resident Dean Bayes. Other favorites the musicians performed included ‘Good Old Country Christmas,’ ‘Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,’ and of course ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’

   The Beacon is grateful for the continued support of these rising music stars. May, from Louisa, said that her future plans include her upcoming marriage and a move to California, where she’ll be a worship leader at a church. Booth, from Campton, Kentucky, said he’s been traveling back and forth to Nashville, recording and writing songs.