Ode to Joy

  • Published
  • By Ms. Ashley Van Dien
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Chris Dullano and his family thought they were just going to dinner on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Instead, they were treated to a special surprise during the Festival of Lights in downtown Riverside. More than 100 students from the Riverside Arts Academy performed a musical flash mob, surprising the military family and pedestrians with a performance of three holiday songs.


“It is a great night in Riverside where we can show our appreciation to our military, our neighbors at March Air Reserve Base,” said Mayor Rusty Bailey. “Thank you Riverside for supporting the military, not just today but every day, and thank you Dullano family for your service to our country. God bless you all.”


“We are excited to acknowledge this family for their military service here in our community,” said Riverside Councilman Andy Melendrez. “Our students have worked very hard to make sure they do the best they can and perform in front of the crowd. The family is truly deserving.”


The Riverside Arts Academy students practiced three hours every Saturday for almost three months to prepare for the special event. They sang and played “Ode to Joy”, “Deck the Halls”, and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” on a variety of instruments.


“I’m really excited to have this chance to share what the Riverside Arts Academy is all about with this community,” said Dr. Gene Moon, music director at Riverside Arts Academy. “I’m so proud of what we have here in Riverside, and I’m thankful to everyone that helps us bring fine music education to these kids. It’s just going to get bigger and better and I can’t wait for the future of Riverside.”


Staff Sgt. Dullano, 752nd Medical Squadron, was overwhelmed by the community’s generosity. “To have Riverside put this on for my family, it’s pretty awesome. There’s other Airmen that deserve this, but for them to choose my family is really special. I still have butterflies in my stomach right now, I thought it was just going to be dinner, but this whole orchestra thing with the kids is awesome.”


Dullano and his family members received Christmas presents in addition to their musical gift, and were treated to dinner after the show.