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Rockin' Roosevelt Benefit Concert When: Noon-8 p.m. May 17 Admission: $5 Where: Roosevelt Park, Arnold Details: newkenar...

| Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Cary Rigatti and Lou Downard look back fondly on their childhoods growing up near Roosevelt Park in Arnold. The park was the social hub of their community, and it attracted children and families.

“We were brought up with the park,” says Rigatti, 56, of Lower Burrell. “That's where you went. You saw your friends at the park, and you played there.”

Downard and Rigatti serve on the park committee with other volunteers who come together in May to hold a benefit concert and social to keep the park open during summer months.

“I'm very nostalgic of the park,” says Downard, 57, of Lower Burrell. “All of us in the group grew up in New Kensington and Arnold and played there.”

They want others to share the park experience and reap the benefits of the community's best natural resource.

“It's a great attraction,” Downard says. “It gives the kids a place to play. Another thing is the tradition. My grandfather took us to the park. We're taking my grandson for his first time. It's a generational thing. It goes back to the '20s or '30s.”

Keeping the park open from Memorial Day to Labor Day comes with a price. The days and hours that it will remain open throughout the summer depend on fundraising.

“It depends on how much money we raise,” Downard says. “We plan to open at 11 a.m. or noon to 7 p.m. Our goal is have the park open five days a week. Hopefully, we'll get in that range.”

To keep the park open, they must pay the city of Arnold to cover certified monitors.

“The city hired two people to monitor the park,” Downard said. “Budget is an issue. The park was closed for two years up until 2012, when we reopened it. At that point, they didn't have monitors to supervise kids in the park.”

The New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park benefit concert held the past two years raised enough money to cover the monitors. The Rockin' Roosevelt Benefit Concert will be from noon to 8 p.m. May 17 at Roosevelt Park.

Last year, about $4,500 was raised, and $4,350 in 2013, according to Downard. Arnold Lions Club also donated $2,000 to the city for Roosevelt Park in 2013 and 2014, Downard says.

“Those funds were used, along with the money we raised, for the park staff, Downard says. “We still have no budget. The reason we have this is to support the park. We want people to get together for a social occasion.”

Rigattti says the work involved in keeping the park open is worth it for him and the committee members.

“We can change a child's life by giving them this,” Rigatti says. “They need the park.”

“It's a nice time for families to come out, and the bands are all local,” Downard says. “It's nice to see people come to the park and enjoy it.”

Sponsored by the New Kensington/Arnold Social in the Park Committee, the event includes local bands playing half-hour sets. The schedule is: The Wanna Beatles at noon; The Next Month, 12:45 p.m.; Soul Raydio, 1:30 p.m.; Timinem Project, 2:15 p.m.; The Shiners, 3 p.m.; On The Ridge, 3:45 p.m.; Miss Freddye & Her Blues Band, 4:30 p.m.; Lenny Collini 5th Element, 5:15 p.m.; All My Monsters, 6 p.m.; Heidi & The Hellcats, 6:45 p.m.; Big House Pete, 7:30 p.m.; and Ozz PA between sets.

The event will include kids activities, food vendors, community groups and attractions.

Billie Nardozzi, a Pittsburgh poet, will emcee. Kinloch Meals on Wheels will be collecting nonperishable food items.

Debbie Black is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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