Sometimes just walking in the door is enough.
Tom Gray, a member of the Leavenworth barbershop quarter Last Free Exit, said for the last four years that the group has been performing singing Valentines in the area, they’ve solicited a number of reactions, many of them changing mid-stream.
“We get from pure joy, bliss and tears to just pleasant enjoyment,” he said. “It usually takes them a little bit to get past the initial shock, kind of embarrassment of being put on the spot, but not too long into it, then the emotions start to flow.”
Last Free Exit was one of three quartets, all part of the Cody Choraliers barbershop chorus, making the rounds in the Leavenworth area Tuesday performing singing Valentines. Across the country, Gray said other quartets were doing the same thing.
He said although the chorus has offered singing Valentines on or close to Valentine’s Day for much of its 42-year history, the last 12 have seen the process somewhat refined — the quartet sings three songs, delivers a card and a rose and poses with the recipient for a photo.
“Others might ask for another song,” said Last Free Exit member Bob Meier.
If they know that song, they will sing it, he said.
They were scheduled to deliver 14 such Valentines Tuesday. All told, the three quartets on duty were to perform 45 times, from North Kansas City to Easton and in Leavenworth itself, from private homes to restaurants, for families of deployed soldiers on Fort Leavenworth to the seniors at Homestead Village.
Sherrie Hodges, an accountant with Kramer and Associates for whom Last Free Exit performed that afternoon, said though she has had a singing Valentine before, it was still a surprise. She said the Valentine came from her husband, Cliff.
“It was wonderful to be serenaded on his behalf,” she said.
Typically, quartet member Tim Anderson said coworkers, family and friends seem to get as much enjoyment out of it as the recipients themselves.
In addition to serving as surrogate Valentines for those who are separate from their sweetheart, offering singing Valentines is also a way for the Cody Choraliers to raise money for its music education grants. Gray said its the second largest fundraiser for the group to that end, following the group’s annual concert in August.
And for the members of quartets making the rounds that day, the occasion is also a chance to have some fun.
“This is my vacation,” Meier joked.