Youngsters honor troops with humor

By Gary Mitchell

Although they made their public debut Saturday, the members of the Clovis Patriotic Kids’ Choir say a kazoo-playing career is not likely in their future.
The six-member song-and-dance troupe opened the “Salute to Our Troops: A Homecoming Celebration” festivities with kazoo number with “Sir Duffy” Moon of KSMX Radio.
“They pretty much handed us kazoos and said, ‘You’re playing these,’” said 14-year-old Jenna DeWitt of Clovis, the oldest member of the group.
“If you don’t count the Happy Meal version, no,” Jenna said in response to a query about previous kazoo experience.
Chuck Tipton, stage director for the event and the director of the group, said the youngsters had talent.
“They were fun,” he said. “They were willing to do whatever we wanted them to do. None of them knew how to play the kazoo, so we gave them instructions on how to play it. It was quite lengthy. It’s not one of those things they teach you in college — kazoo-playing class.”
Following the comedic Sir Duffy and his “Kazoo Crew,” the choir came out again just after the Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard presented colors.
As they entered the stage, they sang, “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”
“I’m very touched by what’s going on here today,” said Carol Mitchell, who sang the national anthem. “A number of our church members have been sent overseas, and we’ve seen the tremendous sacrifices and burdens placed on their families. I’m honored to be asked. I thought this would show in a small way my appreciation for those sacrifices made on my behalf.”
The choir and Mitchell practiced on Thursday.
“We wanted to welcome the troops home with a comical aspect with the kazoos, and then with the serious aspect of ‘My Country ’Tis of Thee,’ ” Jenna said.
“We did this to welcome them home because they did so much for us, and we wanted to do something for them,” said 12-year-old Kate Chalker of Clovis.
Jessica McDowell, 13, of Clovis said the audience responded well to their performance.
“With the kazoos, I could hear them laughing with us,” she said.
“And during ‘My Country ’Tis of Thee,’ a lot of them were holding their hands over their hearts like they do for the national anthem in respect for the flag,” Jenna said.
“They sang it like pros,” Tipton said. “When you’re performing in front of a large crowd, it’s always nerve-wracking, but they did great.”
“I was kinda scared at first, but after I knew my sister would be in it with me, I was less scared,” said 11-year-old Tara DeWitt of Clovis. “After we got out there, I wasn’t nervous. I’m glad I did it. I thought it was really neat that our national anthem was welcoming them back home. I see them all as heroes because we wouldn’t have freedom without them.”
“It shows we respect them, and we’re happy they’re home serving our country,” Jessica said. “And we hope those who aren’t home yet will come home safely.”