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Church Street Accidentally Plays Holiday Music All Night

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Top of Church Street - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Top of Church Street

Leah Gimbutas is already sick of Christmas music. That's because Gimbutas, who lives on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace, got an all-night holiday serenade back on November 15. 

She called the marketplace office "literally the second they opened the next day," the Champlain College student said. "I was like, 'This is torture. I'm not dealing with this again!'"

The music usually turns off at 9 p.m. Ron Redmond, who stepped down earlier this week from his post as executive director of the marketplace, said a software update was to blame for Gimbutas' tossing and turning all holy night.

Each holiday season for the last 25 years, the marketplace has hung speakers on lampposts and played seasonal music during the day and into the evening, according to Redmond. The city also decks the pedestrian mall with bows, garlands and lights to get shoppers in the spirit. Last Friday, Santa Claus arrived for the lighting of a giant Christmas tree at the top of Church Street.

To a pedestrian strolling down the avenue, the tunes aren't especially loud. But Gimbutas said she awoke at 3 a.m. to music and couldn't get back to sleep. Each time the music swelled, she'd bolt upright.

"It was all I could hear," Gimbutas said. "I yelled at the windows. I was going so insane." It could have been worse, she acknowledged. "It was classical, a lot of orchestral music," Gimbutas said. "It wasn't Mariah Carey screaming outside my window."

Redmond apologized to her the morning after and promised to reset the timer. As 9 p.m. approached that night, she waited to see if her wish had been granted.

"I felt like I was hallucinating it," Gimbutas said. "Is there music?"

There wasn't, and she crashed — hard — while visions of sugarplums danced in her head.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Un-Silent Night"