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Impromptu Billings concert catches holiday shoppers at Scheels by surprise

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Posted at 6:38 PM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-16 00:23:25-05

BILLINGS — Christmas joy caught shoppers by surprise outside of Scheels in Billings on Friday as a volunteer bell ringer for the Salvation Army created an impromptu concert with a purpose.

“I called a few friends, who called a few friends, who called a few friends and now I've got a bunch of people out here playing Christmas carols,” said Jack Klein, a Yellowstone County Salvation Army volunteer.

One by one, retired Air Force veteran Jack Klein's little black book of brass-playing musicians, mostly retired, just like him, began to arrive for this pop up band experience, designed to delight shoppers, while raising money for the Salvation Army and those in need.

“I’m a musician, I have a bunch of friends who are musicians, and when I was a kid, we used to gather several of us together to play Christmas carols on the street corners downtown, in those days to raise money for the rescue mission,” said Klein.

The musical mission was an effort to help raise $60,000 for the local Salvation Army's red kettle campaign, and it was a surprise mission for everyone.

“I didn’t find out actually until this morning, haha, but ya it's exciting these guys would come out and do this. It's really nice to have Christmas music played by a brass band, very traditional with the Salvation Army,” says Colin Pederson, a Yellowstone County Salvation Army Lieutenant.

“These are just some good people who are willing to give of their time to serve people who don’t have what they have. You know, none of us are very young and it's pretty cold out here, and they are playing metal instruments, and it's freezing, and they just come out and do it because they care about people they don’t even know, so it's the best part of Christmas for me,” says Klein.

This act of musical kindness is set to help provide a good Christmas and a good year for everyone as the Salvation Army serves some 80,000 meals to Yellowstone County residents in need, annually.

“Folks that are just in a tight spot, they don’t have a lot of extra money, they really appreciate a hot meal. Each night, six days a week, we go out and deliver a meal to the community,” says Pederson.

This organization has been delivering meals and the occasional live concert since 1897 in Billings.