With the official start of baseball season still a month away, hundreds of people lined up outside of Citi Field may have seemed an odd sight.
The people, many of whom were singing with a friend or to their music on their iPod, were not there to purchase good seats to opening day, but rather preparing for the Mets annual Anthem Search contest on Monday, March 8.
Each year, the Mets give participants the chance to audition for the opportunity to perform the National Anthem before a game later in the season.
Contestants, who came from all over New York as well as parts of New Jersey, waited outside of the First Base VIP entrance, as security allowed only 10 people at a time into the room where the auditions were being held.
The eager singers of all ages were given the opportunity to perform a 30- to 60-second excerpt of a song of their choice – but not the National Anthem – a cappella.
Some of the songs their performed included – “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid,” “All or Nothing” by O-Town, “Mean Old Lion” from “The Wiz,” “Nothing” from “A Chorus Line” and even “God Bless America.”
The panel of judges was made up of Kevin Mambo, a star of the hit Broadway musical “Fela!”; Bob Slade, a 98.7 KISS-FM radio personality and Jason Schoenberger, a 2008 Anthem Search winner.
Schoenberger, who has now been on both sides of the microphone understood the anxiety participants were going through and offered advice: “Smile, have fun, and show you like what you’re singing.”
Melissa Goscinski, a resident of Whitestone, heard about the auditions through The Queens Courier, and figured “why not try out?” After singing, “You’re All I Need to Get By,” by Marvin Gaye, she said, “It feels really good to finally get it over with. I tried really hard.”
Another competitor from Whitestone, Alessandra Licul, took the day off from school and came down to the auditions with her mother. Licul, who saw the competition printed in the newspaper had been practicing “Not for the Life of Me” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie” for two weeks, in hopes of being able to sing before one of the Mets games.
Some people did not even have time to practice.
“I heard about the auditions this morning, so I just dropped everything and came over here,” said Shartara Melillo, a 22-year-old Queens resident.
After their auditions, all contestants received an envelope containing two tickets to the Thursday, April 8 game with the Florida Marlins.
Finalists will be notified in the weeks ahead and will be called back to Citi Field, to be judged on their performance of the National Anthem.