By Bruce Stambaugh
For the second year in a row, my wife and I attended the last concert of the season for a local community ensemble, the Dominic Greco Band. The group performed in an outdoor amphitheater at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, Ohio. To say that the evening was again a joy would be an understatement.
The two evenings spaced a year apart were comparable with only a few exceptions. For one, I remembered to take my camera this year to capture all of the action that I anticipated from last year’s experience. I wasn’t disappointed.
The weather was significantly dissimilar, too. Just like the rest of summer 2012, it was rather warm at last year’s performance. This time the temperature was unusually cool for late August in Ohio. I was comfortable in a sweater and eventually a jacket, too.
Of course the band played a different set of tunes. But they could have given the identical show, and I would have been happy. The fact that we knew some of the performers and soloists made the event even more special for us.
We arrived with the orchestra warming up, their squeaky woodwind sounds competing with a hubbub of other audible commotion normally associated with a park setting. Again, it was like back to the future.
The park is in the basin of an ages old Wisconsin Glacier outwash plain. The parking lot sits atop a lateral moraine, with picnic shelters, tables and barbeque grills scattered beneath a stand of giant hardwoods on the east slope of the park.
We sat at the end of one of the long rows of metal bleachers that fan across the hill in front of the amphitheater. A paved path descends beyond the stage and unfolds into the rest of the park. In that arrangement, all of the sounds carry up to the audience, and no one’s view is obstructed.
And what a mismatched, Americana landscape it was. There was the orchestra preparing to play while the rest of the park buzzed with activity. To the south the amusement park section bubbled with action.
The concession stand sold its hotdogs and snow cones. The calliope music of the old merry-go-round played away, beckoning young and old alike. Next door the little train that could stood ready and waiting for passengers. As soon as a few had their tickets, off it went on its clackety clack oval route.
Without waiting for the conductor’s wand, the engineer sounded the horn at the approach of each pedestrian crossing. A few shouts of glee arose from the top of the Ferris wheel, too.
Just as the band got into the swing of things, the sound of aluminum bat on leather softball emanated a rhythm of its own from the batting cages situated right behind the amphitheater. Beyond that, a large flock of geese landed in the outfield grass of the baseball field. Last year, the sights and sounds of a real game competed with the music. This year, the geese got their turn.
As if time had stood still, the local high school football team again pounded their shoulder pads into the blocks during their evening practice. I was almost disappointed that the ambulance and police car that raced by last year didn’t reappear.
The clamorous pulse of the park that accompanied the band’s melodies made the harmonious concert all the sweeter. It was a symbiotic symphony if ever there was one.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2013
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