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Community Chorus singing for 75th Fair ‘Shellabration’

By Staff | Apr 13, 2011

Members of the BIG Arts Community Chorus, under the direction of Steve Cramer, belt out their version of "Shellabration" on Tuesday afternoon.

When Salli Kirkland, president of the Sanibel Community Association, was trying to come up with a few innovative ideas to help promote next year’s Shell Fair & Show, which will be celebrating it’s 75th anniversary, she knew it had to be special.

One of the first ideas she had was to have a float for the island’s annual Fourth of July Parade.

“We are going to have a bunch of people on the float doing the ‘Sanibel Stoop,’ but we needed a song to play over the loudspeakers that people would enjoy and remember,” recalled Kirkland. “I kept think that there weren’t enough floats that played music, so ours could be really unique.”

Then, an even brighter idea struck.

Following the theme of “Shellabration 2012,” as the event had already been dubbed, why not use one of the most popular party songs of all time — Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” — as the background music to a shell-focused anthem?

Bass vocalists Frank Countryman, left, and Jason LaManna discuss their portion of the song.

With a little bit of assistance from Mike Bugler, who penned the parody’s lyrics, a new song called “Shellabration” was born.

But who could possibly sing the tune, which will be booming over a speaker system throughout the parade down Periwinkle Way this summer?

“I’m not a singer, but I remembered that Blanaid (Colley) owed me a favor,” said Kirkland. “I called her and sort of planted the seed. She put this all together.”

Colley, owner of several island businesses, is a member of the BIG Arts Community Chorus. Charged with turning the Shell Fair promotional song into a memorable melody, she talked the group into gathering together on Tuesday afternoon to record “Shellabration” at the Sanibel Community House.

“Three-quarters of our chorus group will be leaving the island in about a week, so we had to put this together very quickly,” said Colley. “In fact, today was the first time that any of us had seen the lyrics.”

Steve Cramer directs the chorale group with enthusiasm and energy.

With Colley’s husband, Jeremy Kane, poised on the stage, where he recorded the group on videotape, the BIG Arts Community Chorus spent about a half hour practicing the tune.

“There’s a part going on right here

A Shellabration, our 75th year

So bring your beach shoes and your shell nets, too

We’re gonna Shellabrate and party with you!”

Members of the chorus sang the tune both loud and proud.

Under the direction of Steve Cramer, the group — dressed in matching t-shirts — put their own spin on the dance-inspiring song.

“We’re gonna have a good time – hooray

Visit the Shell Fair, make your day

We’re gonna have a good time – hooray

See the Shell Show, a great way to play!”

After recording the final version of “Shellabration,” Kirkland and Colley congratulated the group on a job well done.

The 75th Annual Shell Fair & Show, to be held at the Sanibel Community House from Feb. 26 through March 3, 2012, will also include special lectures at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, a major stage program at BIG Arts, shell authors and children’s shell-related activities at the Sanibel Public Library.

In addition, there will be special shell merchandise sold in island shops, creative shell fish dishes in local restaurants and unique contests.

“It will be a shell of a good time!” added Anne Joffe, president of the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club and chairperson of the Shell Fair & Show.