Monte Ingersoll hasn't forgotten the joy Christmas brought him as a child.
"As a kid, I loved Christmas and the huge gathering of friends and family singing Christmas carols and enjoying Christmas as one big happy family," he said recently.
And all that holiday spirit is still alive and kicking in the Kennewick musician/minister. He's inviting Tri-Citians to come and celebrate with him and his friends and family when he presents his annual Home for Christmas concert.
It will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 and at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 in the Windermere Theatre at the Toyota Center.
Sharing the stage with Ingersoll will be his longtime friend and fellow minister Mel Haug, and Scott Ryan Ingersoll and The Studio Singers.
Special guests will be the Asante Children's Choir from Rwanda, Africa, as well as singer Barbara Kayaga from Uganda, Africa.
"It has always been my wish to help bring Christmas joy to people who are happy, sad, young or old," Ingersoll said. He said he hopes the event will allow visitors "to step into the Christmas of their dreams."
The African children's choir is made up of kids who lost either one or both parents to genocide, HIV or other diseases, Ingersoll said.
"They sing and dance with unspeakable joy," he said. "Their story is of hope and healing through song and dance. Wait until you hear them sing."
The show is set in a Christmas village that has a bakery, hotel, church and toy store. The story unfolds with Christmas classics, a visit from Santa and even a little snowfall.
There will be a pre-show starting at 5 p.m. in the Toyota Center's parking lot featuring a hot dog roast and plenty of fire pits to keep your hands warm.
Other musicians who'll be performing throughout the evening include Frazer Wambeke on piano, Brandon Shaw on bass guitar, Doug Norman on drums, Mark LeVang from Los Angeles on keyboard, and Bob Somma, also from LA, on guitar. Backup vocalists are Randi Bonnell, Jodi Moore and Cory Lester.
Tickets range from $17 to $37, with discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Proceeds will be divided between several Tri-City charitable organizations. Last year's event raised $30,000.
"We're pretty happy about that," Ingersoll said. "The more people we can help through this event the better."
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org