It's a holiday tradition: caroling by professionals for the patients at Children's Hospital. This year, like last, the cast of the Ford's Theater production of "A Christmas Carol" spent a morning doing sing-along duty. Annie Koch was there, too. Her report:

The atrium at Children's Hospital is the building's main lobby, but it is not the kind of main lobby you see every day. It is four stories high and filled with light. A large white-and- yellow W-E-L-C-O-M-E sign hangs above the information desk.

Normally, the atrium is a center of activity. Ten days before Christmas, it is positively hopping. At the base of a 20-foot decorated Christmas tree sit dozens of excited children and eager hospital workers. Groups of yellow balloons dance against the walls.

In a nearby room, the cast from Ford's prepares to go on. They are talking and smiling. It is clear they are happy to be at Children's.

When the emcees announce that it's show time, the atrium is suddenly alive with 19th-century costumes of different colors, and the melody of "Here We Come A-Caroling."

Children stop talking, stop laughing, stop nudging each other. All eyes and ears are tuned in on the actors.

Once the song is finished, each member of the cast steps up to the microphone to introduce himself and explain the character he plays in "A Christmas Carol." Children sitting in wheelchairs, lying on beds, sprawling on bleachers watch with total concentration.

Doctors, volunteers, parents, nurses, receptionists and anyone passing through the lobby do the same.

The old favorite, "Jingle Bells," is next. The cast asks everyone to join in. Everyone does.

After a few more songs, the cast performs a short scene from the Dickens classic. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" wind up the program. As the crowd disperses, members of the cast shake hands, share smiles, pass out yellow balloons.

Ten minutes later, the atrium is without singers, without costumes, without an audience. But the Christmas spirit remains.