SEBASTIAN – More than a thousand Sebastian, Vero Beach and other area residents crammed into Riverview Park Friday evening for a special treat – performances from the highly acclaimed Sebastian River High School Jazz and Steel Drum bands.
The second performance in the lineup for the six-month Concert in the Park series put on by the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, organizers expected about 500 people to bring out chairs and blankets to enjoy the show. “This is the best turnout I’ve ever seen,” Chamber organizer Britney Faulk announced to the crowd during an intermission. “This is awesome.”
Sebastian River High Band Director Joel Pagan said that performing for the community is a treat for his students.
“It’s carefree,” he said. “It’s really special for the kids.”
Pagan said he hopes that these types of performances in the community help the public understand the importance of music programs within public schools.
With pending budget cuts at the School District level, school officials aren’t sure how those cuts might impact those kinds of programs.
Concertgoers made an evening of the event, many bringing dinners with them to enjoy with the music. And while several brought sandwiches, burgers and other treats from area fast food restaurants, at least one group of friends dined on home-cooking – chicken stew.
Sheila Johnson, who attended the concert with friends Tom and Mary McDevitt, brought a pot of piping hot chicken stew, bowls and spoons to the park.
They had planned on attending the concert for some time and thought stew would be the meal to have.
“We love it out here,” Johnson said.
She and the McDevitts, all of Vero Beach, attend the Concert in the Park series, often trying to make it out for the Sebastian River High School bands.
“They were both good,” Johnson said of the Steel Drum and the Jazz bands.
Tom McDevitt said that, along with the music, the group enjoys being out in the open air, relaxing.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” he said.
Now in its 12th year, the Chamber’s Concert in the Park series has grown from beyond a tiny event under the gazebo at Riverview Park.
“I can’t believe it’s been 12 years,” said Chamber Executive Director Beth Mitchell. “It’s ridiculous.”
“Everything we do, we try to incorporate elements of our mission statement,” she said, adding that the concerts fit all three elements – tourism, business support, and quality of life. “For us, it was a no-brainer.”
Sponsored by the City of Sebastian, the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, Waste Management and the Melbourne International Airport, the next concert will be held March 11 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. with Mike and Kayte performing music from the ’80s and ’90s.
The Concert in the Park series wraps up June 10 with Jimmy Buffet-inspired music by John Mackin.