‘The world was so scary’: Topekan starts new tradition heard for miles amid pandemic

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Before the pandemic began, neighbors Sue Bolley and Christi Stewart would often meet up to chat in their central Topeka neighborhood. However, coronavirus stopped that routine as they were forced to stay within the confines of their homes.

Their neighbor Steve Bergstrom found a reason for them to come outside and reunite, putting on a concert every night at 6 p.m. The bells have become a new tradition and a positive outcome of the pandemic.

“The city was so quiet and the only thing that we really heard was [that we’re close to the hospital and] the helicopter bringing patients in, and so it was that combination of the helicopter come over ten times or more a day,” Bolley said.

The bells provided a sense of comfort in a world of so much uncertainty.

“They were just really beautiful to hear when the world was so scary,” Bolley said.

The carillon from Westminster Presbyterian Church sits next to Boswell Park and travels for blocks into the streets that were once so quiet. Bergstrom made the walk everyday to church every day to conduct his electronic symphony. It started as just church bells, but then would soon evolve into so much more, even playing the theme of Star Wars.

“New York New York is even on that list,” Bergstrom said. “The music from the sound of music is on there [too].”

Bergstrom said he’s looking for more music after the company that made their carillon was sold to another.

“I would love to expand the library but that’s not possible right now,” Bergstrom said.

Coronavirus is not over yet, and neither are Bergstrom’s plans. He says the music will not stop even when the pandemic has subsided.

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