Fundraiser in 4th year of propping up Arnold park
For Lou Downard of the New Ken Arnold Social in the Park Committee, Rockin' Roosevelt is about both the past and the future.
The one-day fundraiser concert happens from noon to 8 p.m. May 15 and features more than a dozen acts and craft and food vendors in Roosevelt Park in Arnold.
Admission is $5, and the concert raises money to cover the costs of providing playground attendants at the Drey Street park. The committee started the fundraiser several years ago when the city could not afford to pay attendants, which led to the park being closed.
“I grew up in Arnold, and my grandfather took me to the park all the time. For those of us in the group, it's very nostalgic,” Downard says.
“I've taken my grandson down to the park, now that he's a year old. I think that's the thing that motivated us in the beginning, getting (Roosevelt) park open and getting things done at Memorial Park.”
The group also organizes a concert each September in New Kensington's Memorial Park.
The concert features local musicians whose sounds range from soul to rock to contemporary Christian.
“When I was a kid, there were all these bands there,” Downard says. “There was always music.”
Committee member Mario Tempest also has fond memories of the park.
“I spent my childhood down at Roosevelt Park,” he says. “Most of us did. It's a big reason why we do this.”
Downard, Tempest and their fellow committee members have been bringing music back to the park for four years.
The event raised about $4,500 last year. Downard sees other benefits springing from the concerts in the parks, as well.
“It's about community, too,” he says. “You get people down there who may not see each other on a regular basis. You get people from every walk of life.”
Vocalist Marcie Covey is looking forward to returning to Roosevelt this year. Last year, she and her country music band On the Ridge played. This year, she will be there with a new Christian band, Risen to Save. She sees the show as a great value for a great cause.
“You can walk in there, and every half an hour, a different kind of music is coming on. Every half-hour, there is something new,” she says. “You get access to all of that for $5, and that $5 is going to keep that park alive.”
This year, Andre Carter and his New Kensington-based Jamz Avenue music studio are organizing a second acoustic stage. Five up-and-coming musicians will play there between main-stage sets.
“It's a way to get them experience and exposure — and, hopefully, next year they'll be on the main stage,” Carter says.
The second stage is a great way to add more bands, Tempest says. As the event has become more well-known, he says, they've had to turn musicians away.
“The bands donate their time, and we still have a list of people waiting even though they do it for free,” he says.
J. Elizabeth Martin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.