Need holiday cheer right now? Call this number and college students will sing carols to you.
Dial-a-Carol — a 57-year-old tradition of Illinois students belting out holiday tunes 24/7 during finals — is looking to make 2017 one of its biggest years for sharing holiday cheer.
With a goal of 15,000 calls, University Housing’s holiday song request line (which can be reached for free by calling 217–332–1882) starts this year at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 14 and ends Dec. 20.
This Snyder Hall tradition began with clerk Betty Gordon in the early ’60s, who came up with the idea for students on the second floor of Snyder Hall to play holiday records over the phone. By 1962, students were already answering more than 4,000 calls. Soon, student carolers replaced records and now sing for callers from all 50 states and around the world.
Students answered more than 16,000 calls from 70 different countries in 2015 alone, according to an article about Dial-a-Carol’s history by Student Life and Culture Archives.
We asked Illinois alumni and students to share their experiences either calling Dial-a-Carol or volunteering as a student caroler:
In 1996, Christopher said he and a buddy were pulling an all-nighter for finals. “The Dial-a-Carol team agreed to call us every hour on the hour to make sure we were awake.”
Mickey was volunteering from 1-4 a.m., and was tired and bored. “But then a call came in from a South Carolina radio station and they put me on the radio! Made the whole shift worth it. Not to mention I just love caroling!”
Marian was living in Noble Hall across the street from Snyder Hall in 1967. “Our phone number was very similar to the Dial-a-Carol number. My roommate and I counted over 100 wrong calls one day. I also heard her sing ‘Jingle Bells’ to a little one who had dialed us by mistake.”
“A friend of mine lived in Snyder and manned a phone,” said Mitch. “I had just bought the 45 of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ by Band Aid from Record Service in December 1984, brought it over and they made a copy — so it was ‘my’ version of the song that played for those that requested it.”
Bill called from the second floor of Snyder Hall in fall 1984. “Had to hear Porky Pig sing ‘Blue Christmas,’ a la Elvis Presley.”
Katharine volunteered for Dial-A-Carol her freshman year. “We made up a parody of ‘Apple Bottom Jeans’ about Santa … they were singing it a year later, not sure if it’s still in the book.”
Help Dial-a-Carol achieve its goal of 15,000 callers for 2017! You can reach any Dial-a-Carol caroler by calling 217–332–1882 starting at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 14. Follow the merriment on Twitter and Facebook or learn more about the event.