Executive Director, Merrick Festival Caroling Competition; General Property Manager
Sally L. Baumgartner has been a resident of Coral Gables for 63 years, during which time she has served in numerous civic organizations – in addition to her “day jobs” as a market researcher and property manager. (She also attended Coral Gables High School and the University of Miami.) In the past, she worked as a market research assistant for the Miami Herald and a project director for Strategy Research Corp. She has also served as president of the Merrick Festival, a trustee of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, president of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables, and director of the Junior Orange Bowl Committee.
The founder of the famed Merrick Festival Caroling Competition that takes place at the end of each November, Baumgartner has just finished putting together its 36th annual iteration. This year’s week-long singing competition brought 30 choruses from Miami-Dade high schools to the steps of the 550 Building on Biltmore Way. Students competed for cash prizes that went to their respective music departments. In addition, Baumgartner was instrumental in helping produce this year’s Chili Cookoff for the Rotary Club, which took place at the end of October in Ponce Circle.
What She Says
What’s great about the Caroling Competition, says Baumgartner, is that students “love it because they don’t get opportunities to perform. Everything [they do] is school-based so they don’t have an audience wide enough to hear them… doing this has been so rewarding and so full of stories.” One of her favorites is about a student who won the first “soloist” prize at the competition in 2016. She is now in a starring role as Rapunzel in the Broadway musical “Into the Woods,” for which she was nominated for a Grammy. “The talent these kids have is so amazing. And they really have a good time. One teacher told me that her kids don’t become a choir until they sing in the competition…. That kind of stuff makes it all worthwhile.”