Caroling in the cold: Chorus, DeGarmo perform

DULUTH - Colorful Christmas lights adorned the Duluth Amphitheater stage Saturday evening as the crowd anticipated vocal performances during the annual Carols in the Park event.

Chilly weather could not keep the more than 400 people from enjoying hot cocoa, ice skating and holiday songs performed by 2004 "American Idol" finalist Diana DeGarmo and the Big Chicken Chorus, featuring soloist Susan Schreer.

People bundled up in coats, scarves, hats, gloves and draped warm blankets over their legs so they could keep warm and stay out longer.

With everything but her face covered, Duluth resident Betty Kelly said she came to the event with her husband and 14-year-old granddaughter to spend quality family time and experience the Christmas spirit and charm of historic downtown.

"(Duluth) makes you feel like part of a community, and it brings back old memories from when people came from small towns," Kelly said.

Kelly's granddaughter, Paige Prosser, was focused on more than the old-town feel, however.

"My favorite part about tonight would be Diana DeGarmo," Prosser said. "I like her tone quality."

For the Snellville native and world-traveling DeGarmo, singing at this event brought her back to her roots.

"(Singing back home) is fun, and I like it," the 18-year-old said. "People always love you no matter what. The stage is cute, and it's a nice setting for the show."

Also performing was the Big Chicken Chorus, singing barbershop-style Christmas songs, featuring soloist Susan Schreer, whose father sings in the chorus.

"There's something nostalgic about singing with Dad," she said. "It's fun to take a part of what my dad gets so much joy out of. It's good father-daughter time."

The event also brought good mother-daughter time for Kelly Lecture, who drove up from Vinings with her 4-year-old daughter, Gabby.

Lecture, who recently moved from Cincinnati, said she enjoys events like Carols in the Park.

"We don't have much family in town so things like this make us feel like we're home."

Although the free event is in its seventh year, this is the first year the event has been held in Gwinnett County. In previous years it was held at Centennial Park in Atlanta.