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Concert on Sunday to benefit Arnold park

| Saturday, May 18, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

Members of the New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park plan to extend their goodwill to Arnold's Roosevelt Park this Sunday.

The group will sponsor “Rockin' Roosevelt,” a benefit concert to raise money for summer playground attendants for the park at the corner of Drey Street and Constitution Boulevard.

Councilman Ron Hopkins, who oversees Arnold's parks, said the city traditionally opens Roosevelt only when paid monitors can keep an eye on the facilities and the children using them.

Vandalism and misbehavior have been a problem when the park is left unattended,.

Mayor Larry Milito said council could not allot any money toward attendants this summer: “We had to take it out of the budget because of the budget crunch we were under.”

Milito hopes civic groups will donate money and/or organize events at the park that will allow council to open it.

He said ideally the city would like to collect at least $10,000 to pay two attendants $8 per hour each to staff the park from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Lou and Cindy Downard, members of the New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park, said they have raised money for New Kensington's Memorial Park since the group began meeting there in 2011. This year they donated about $3,000 toward the renovation of the Memorial Park bandstand.

When the group heard of Arnold's financial struggles, members decided to plan Sunday's benefit concert to showcase the park and raise money toward its operation.

“The park is beautiful, and it's a shame to see it locked,” Lou Downard said. “We want to see this park open.”

Tickets to Sunday's event cost $5. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m., and the first act, impersonator “Elvis: A Tribute to the King,” is scheduled to go on at 11 a.m. in Roosevelt's bandstand, which Cindy Downard affectionately calls the “eggshell.”

Bands will perform roughly half-hour sets throughout the day until about 6 p.m. They include classic-rock cover band Heidi and The Hellcats; The Hackers and The Hackettes; alternative-rock band All My Monsters; blues rockers The Matt Ross Band; blues singers Mia Z and Miss Freddye and Her Band; and final act Big House Pete. An Ozz PA, an Ozzy Osbourne impersonator, also will be on hand during some intermissions.

The Downards said they received a great response from local bands. “We turned acts away,” Lou Downard said.

“It's a great lineup,” said Cindy Downard. She said there will be a meet-and-greet area with the bands.

The event also will feature an array of food vendors, raffles and children's activities.

Cindy Downard said she hopes to continue the event in future years.

Some of the bands tour nationally and have a following that might be drawn to Arnold for Sunday's concert, Lou Downard said.

“We want to put our best foot forward,” he said.

“Hopefully we'll get the people out,” Milito said. “Then we can supply the park with staff, keep the park open and give the kids a place to go this summer.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

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