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The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition invites you to sing your heart out

Seattle event benefits local food bank

A Figgy Pudding caroling team calling themselves Sugar Plum Elves performs to huge crowds at the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. Photo credit: Jeremy Lange

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With the holiday season now upon us, what better way to get into the festive spirit than to pull out those traditional carols and sing.

And if you've ever wanted to take it a step further and sing Christmas carols for a good cause, then the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank in Seattle invites you to form a caroling team and participate in its 29th annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Dec. 4 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Westlake Center.

"It is a privilege and an honor to be the manager of the event, because I get to interact with all the teams, sponsors and volunteers," said Zoë Freeman, event manager and head figlet. "They give me a lot of energy. I get a high working with all of them."

Freeman has been leading the event since joining the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank staff in 1991. The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition started in 1986 and was inspired by then-executive director of the organization, Daniel Knutson-Bradac, to come up with a creative fundraiser for the senior center and food bank. Money raised supports the organization's operations.

"They wanted something that was different," Freeman said. "It was a brilliant idea."

Knutson-Bradac brainstormed the name and came up with Figgy Pudding. Freeman said he wanted a clever name and something with a holiday ring to it.

"The original name was the Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition," Freeman explained. "About five years ago, we dropped the street corner part."

Recently, the organization trademarked the name.

"We own the name," Freeman said.

The street corner part of the original name described how caroling teams formed for the competition to sing on street corners in and around Westlake Center. On Figgy Friday, as it's called, several blocks of streets are closed off to traffic to allow for caroling teams to perform and people to watch.

"We had about forty teams on the street last year," Freeman said. "We always estimate crowds at just under ten thousand."

Registering teams pay a modest $75 fee to participate. Freeman encourages teams to include a minimum of five people. There is no maximum limit.

"Figgy Pudding works like a walk-a-thon," Freeman said. "Groups of people form caroling teams and start practicing their carols. The bulk of the money is raised (by the teams) before Figgy Friday. This is called figlanthropy."

During the hour that teams are caroling on the street, they also raise money. The team that raises the most in that one hour receives the Get Figgy With It award.

From 6 to 6:15 p.m. on Figgy Friday, the 5th Avenue Theater previews its holiday show. From 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., caroling takes place on the street, and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., the big stage sing-off takes place, where the top teams perform for judges and People's Choice Awards are handed out. Freeman said a human applause-o-meter determines the People's Choice.

The organization hopes to raise $125,000 this year.

29th annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, 6 to 8:30 p.m., Dec. 4, Westlake Center, Seattle, $75 to register,

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