30 years of Bay Port’s Caroling at the Courthouse
By William Kopp
Friday Dec. 16 marked the 30th annual event of caroling at the Brown County Courthouse for Bay Port High School’s vocal ensemble carolers.
The tradition began all the way back in 1992 with its founder and former Bay Port choir director Dave Pufall and has continued to stay active for 29 years of performances, missing a single date in 2020.
The location of the courthouse rotunda creates a memorable experience for the singers and audiences alike.
“A location for the acoustics, that’s what was attractive about it,” Michael Pufall, Dave’s son, said.
In 2009, Dave Pufall retired and passed the baton to his son, who has been enjoying the job ever since.
“It was a little scary, exciting, too, though,” Michael said. “I come at it from a different perspective than a lot of students did and then, when hired, I definitely had a different perspective as well… It was an exciting time, I do remember that.”
Coming into the position from the experience of having his father as the former person to fill the seat gave him plenty to decide on.
“Finding what some of those traditions that we wanted to keep are and then trying to balance those with new things — new traditions — to build on was a challenge.”
The traditions Dave started didn’t stop at caroling at the courthouse, though.
From the choir students singing the National Anthem on the football field prior to the first home game to the closing of their final concert each year with the song “River in Judea” by Linda Marcus, all were traditions he began 30 years ago.
The Vocal Ensemble is Bay Port High School’s highest audition choir, and as the choir director, Michael gets to enjoy plenty of heartwarming events from the choir concerts themselves to the interactions the ensemble has with people of the community.
Michael claims that his favorite part about the experience is when they go to all the different elementary schools and get to perform for them.
“There’s a part of the performance where we send the students out to sing [in the audience] with the elementary kids and they get to interact with each other and talk,” he said. “It’s pretty powerful to see that community strengthen, a pretty neat moment.”
Michael keeps the Bay Port carolers of the vocal ensemble busy throughout the year — and especially throughout the winter season — with public events.
These events range from their annual caroling at the courthouse, to performing for the schools around the area to their performance on Monday, Dec. 19, at Lambeau Field prior to the Green Bay Packers game against the Los Angeles Rams.
With two generations of Pufalls already taking on the role of choir director for Bay Port and a third (Jonathan Pufall, son of Michael) in the choir ensemble as a senior, it’s hard not to wonder whether Bay Port will see a third generation stepping up when Michael retires.
“It’s hard to predict,” Michael said. “I know [Jonathan] wants to go into music, but I don’t know which path. He also wants to go into biology — two very demanding programs, I don’t know how he’s going to manage both. I know he does want to keep music a part of his life. But at what capacity? Well he’ll have to figure that out for himself.”
Bay Port will just have to wait and see what the future holds for this generational tradition of Pufall’s holding the position of choir director.
For those who are interested in seeing the choir ensemble perform, the next concert is scheduled for Jan. 12. Michael affirmed, “Come see us!”
For more information on future performance dates for the Bay Port vocal ensemble go to bayportvocalmusic.weebly.com.