NORTH CENTER — Carolers gathered Wednesday night in North Center's Town Square to serenade the neighborhood with a heartfelt rendition of the holiday classic ... "Purple Rain."
Allow us to introduce you to the "Merry Princemas" singers who found the Christmas spirit not in chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Rudolph or Bing Crosby but in the unlikeliest of sources — the tunes of pop singer Prince.
The ad hoc troupe of vocalists swapped out "White Christmas" and "Jingle Bells" for "When Doves Cry" and "1999" and darned if it wasn't the holliest, jolliest of nights.
The idea for the sing-along was born three Christmases ago, when Elizabeth Stock first noticed a "Merry Princemas" sign lighting up an apartment window near her Damen Avenue office.
"It would always make me happy when I'd see it," said Stock.
When the sign went up again this year, Stock hit upon Princemas caroling as a way to thank the anonymous renters for hanging this "beacon of hope and happiness" at the corner of Belle Plaine and Damen.
She recruited friends and fellow Prince fans via Facebook and through some Internet detective work managed to track down the sign's owners, Ben Zurawski and his wife Summer Violett. The couple met online when Violett's profile was the only one that matched her now-husband's interests in Prince, Pee-Wee Herman and Radiohead.
"He's always doing crazy things," Violett said of her spouse. "Just that a stranger saw this beautiful thing ... I'm going to cry."
Clad in purple robes, purple glow sticks in hand to light up their lyric sheets and unpronounceable glyphs (3-D printed by Stock) dangling from their necks, the singers spent the better part of an hour belting out Prince hits like "Raspberry Beret," "I Would Die for You" and "7."
Zurawski, who makes flipbooks for a living, was overwhelmed by the unlooked-for show of gratitude from Stock and her band of carolers.
"It reaffirmed that if you put your weirdness out into the world ....," he said, trailing off.
In forgoing the usual holiday trappings, Stock managed to tap into the meaning of Christmas at its purest.
"Princemas, for me, is not only about celebrating the awesomeness that is the artist Prince but an opportunity to celebrate despite religious beliefs and without the focus of extreme commercialism," she said. "Princemas is all about happiness, love and community, and to inspire others."
The holiday spirit was alive and well as "Merry Princemas" carolers performed the Purple One's songs. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]
Merry Princemas carolers wore purple robes, glyph necklaces and even had printed lyric books. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]