Band Blast celebrates, benefits parks in New Kensington, Arnold | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Band Blast celebrates, benefits parks in New Kensington, Arnold

Emily Balser
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Nick Rodites cooks hotdogs and hamburgers at the Band Blast hosted by the New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park Committee at Park at New Kensington’s Memorial Park on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. He and his wife, Marcy, run Ice Cream Heaven in New Kensington.
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
The Epics perform classic doo-wop songs at the Band Blast hosted by the New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park Committee at Park at New Kensington’s Memorial Park on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019.
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Up The River Band performs at the Band Blast hosted by the New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park Committee at Park at New Kensington’s Memorial Park on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019.

Hundreds of people turned out Sunday to hear all types of music from country to doo-wop at New Kensington Memorial Park as a way to support improvements at the park.

The New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park group has hosted the “Band Blast” for six years as a way to raise money to maintain Memorial Park and Roosevelt Park in Arnold.

More than 20 bands and musicians performed Sunday across two stages.

“All of the musicians play free,” said Lou Downard, a member of the group. “They donate their time and their talent, and they’re all wonderful.”

They hope to use proceeds from this year’s event toward paying for a new playground and playground surface at Memorial Park. Downard said they will also seek grant money and work with the New Kensington Redevelopment Authority for the project that is estimated to cost roughly $100,000 to $150,000.

“It’s about 20 years old and it’s deteriorating,” Downard said.

Downard estimated the Band Blast typically brings it anywhere from $2,500 up to $4,000. Admission Sunday was $5.

Bands performed on the main stage for a half-hour each with short breaks in between shows.

“It’s just really cool to be outside on a nice summer day playing music,” said Susan Bicker, singer and rhythm guitar player for The Rust Project, a rock cover band who was doing a Neil Young tribute on Sunday.

Tim Bazzone, lead guitar for the Rust Project, said he likes performing at the event because they get to connect with people who might not normally see them perform at bars or other late-night venues.

“You get to play for people who don’t usually go out,” he said. “The little kids are a blast.”

Joe and Marianne Larkin, of Springdale Township came out Sunday to hear the music. This is their second time attending.

“We thought it was pretty great — a nice time,” Joe Larkin said.

New Kensington residents Bonnie and Arch Carroll said they hadn’t been to the park since their now-grown children were little.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Arch Carroll said. “I think it’s very good.”

Lifelong New Kensington resident Marilyn Claassen said she comes to the park often to walk and play with her grandchildren. She said what the Social in the Park group is doing is “all heart.”

“What they’re doing to this park to improve our community is absolutely phenomenal,” Claassen said.

Downard said he hopes to leave the parks in good shape for the next generation and get people interested in carrying on their initiatives.

“What we do as a committee is almost a nostalgic thing. All of us that are in the committee are in our 50s and 60s and all of us went to these parks, our kids and my grandson’s here today,” he said. “We want to keep the parks going for the next 50 or 100 years.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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