Fall City bell ringers get a taste of America

Fifteen members of the Rhythmics, a group of elite handbell ringers at Fall City Methodist Church, toured America this summer, sharing their talents with communities nearly 3,000 miles from home.

Viewing faces and places from the rich landscapes of Indiana to the vibe of New York, from Chicago-style pizza to the Washington monument, choir members got a true taste of the United States during their journey, which lasted from July 3 to 19.

"It was a very enriching experience," choir member Brandon Peterson said. "Everybody was receptive, welcoming and in awe of our youth."

Fall City's handbell

Under the direction of Marion Querro, who began the bell ringing group 20 years ago, the musical interest for bell ringing has grown to a number of groups in Fall City. For beginners, the Cabbage Patch Ringers start playing at the age of 3. They graduate to Bell Hops and then move up with experience to the Rhythmics, a group consisting of 13-to-27 year olds.

A separate adult group called the River City Ringers also plays.

The Rhythmics tour every three years. This time around, the group was fortunate to have three original Cabbage Patch Ringers on tour. The trio—Peterson, Jill Martinell and Morgan Stine have been the catalyst for the latest successes, Querro said.

West to East

A former family of ringers who moved to Indiana invited the Rhythmics to start their tour, arranging a number of venues and home stays to start the journey east.

While playing at a number of churches and chapels along the way, Querro said she felt at home in Downsville, New York, a little tiny town about the size of Fall City.

"People in that area were so excited that we were coming into town," she said. "They packed that place like sausages and we put a beautiful concert on for them."

The group also performed at St. Joseph's College Chapel, North Judson Lutheran Church, Jackie Robinson Park and Calvary Church in Park Avenue.

The Rhythmics youngest ringer, Carson Stine, 13, said his favorite performance was at the Calvary Church in New York.

"It was just a really cool church," he said. "They could see and hear us out on the streets because they had a screen showing the performance."

Sight seeing

Even with a full agenda of performances, the Rhythmics made sure to take in the sights each state had to offer.

For Peterson the third leg of the tour in Washington D.C. was very powerful, as they saw national landmarks up close.

The group decided to visit Arlington National Cemetery and honor Eric Ward, a Mount Si High School alumnus who died last February while serving in Afghanistan's Helmand province as a Marine lance corporal.

"You get a sense for being an American," Peterson said. "It's hard to fully grasp that when you never leave Snoqualmie Valley. Seeing the endless rows of pristine white headstones, (you) realize how much sacrifice people make for the freedom we take for granted today."

It was important for the ringers to see these landmarks, Tina Drain, said a chaperone who had accompanied the Rhythmics.

"When you're traveling with 15 people it can be unpredictable," she said. "But I was impressed by they way they handled themselves."

Future plans

Proud of the Rhythmics, Querro feels that they were great ambassadors "and a good group of kids."

With the tour over and ringers now settling down at home, she said the group isn't done playing yet. They will stay stateside, though.

"We'll maybe take them to a handbell festival and let them be a featured bell choir," Querro said. "They really make the decision. I just put my foot down when it comes to countries with big language barriers."

• To learn more about Fall City United Methodist Church's bell ringing teams, call Marion Querro at (425) 445-5338.

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