Bruce “Scotty” Scott decided to do something a little different while bell-ringing this holiday season after 15 years of working with the Salvation Army.
He brought along his red trombone.
“Music always makes people happy, if it’s done right,” said Scott, a lifelong musician. “Music is a gift.”
This holiday season, Scott could be heard playing Christmas favorites like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in front of the Nipomo Vons grocery store, while his wife, Janice Scott, rang the classic Salvation Army bell calling for donations to its Red Kettle Campaign.
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Scott’s signature red trombone is specifically for use outside, making it perfect for the long hours standing in front of the store, he said.
“Of course everyone who came by was delighted,” he said. “I think we even made more money than we usually do. We cleaned up real nice.”
Scott plays all the Christmas carols from memory, a feat he says isn’t too difficult because of his years as a professional musician. He first started playing as a child in Cincinnati, when his band instructor father came home one day and handed him a trombone.
“He came in and said he needed a trombone player, so I was going to do it,” Scott said with a laugh. “I’ve done it ever since.”
Scott has played the instrument for 70 years now, including playing with local symphonies and in brass bands around the Central Coast.
His favorite Christmas song to play? “Joy to the World.”
Music has also given Scott the chance to raise awareness for the Salvation Army, an organization he has been involved with as both a director on the Five Cities board and more recently as a bell-ringer, he said.
Each year, the Salvation Army helps provide “basic needs, housing, youth services, rehabilitation, counseling and spiritual care” to more than 25 million people around the world, according to its website. In 2016, its Red Kettle Campaign raised $147.3 million.
“That’s the important thing,” he said, “not me — the work they are doing.”
Though Scott’s bell-ringing/trombone playing has come to an end this year, he said he plans to return next year — with his red instrument in tow.
“I always say, I get a chance to toot my own horn, and it’s the only time people actually listen,” he said. “I’ll be back, if God prevails.”