Municipal Band still packing' em in

July 28, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Be it tradition, the beautiful setting or the appreciation for talented musicians, people flock by the hundreds on summer Sunday nights to Hagerstown City Park for performances by the Hagerstown Municipal Band.

Many summed it up by simply saying that it beats watching television.

The Hagerstown Municipal Band is in the midst of its 89th season performing in the park, according to Lynn Lerew, in his 29th year as the band director. The former Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Senior High School band director said the band has performed in City Park every summer since the group's inception in 1915. The only break came when performances were canceled during World War II. The band has about 75 members, 40 to 50 of whom play on any given Sunday. Band members are Tri-State area residents ranging in age from 16 to 82, Lerew said.

One of more than 250 people in attendance Sunday was lifetime Hagerstown resident Dick Stottlemyer, who said he has been drawn to the shows for more than 50 years because of the relaxing atmosphere and family tradition.


"My daddy played in this park when he was a little boy," Stottlemyer said. "Not a year goes by that we don't get out here a few times."

George Howard of Guilford Avenue in Hagerstown said he has been coming to the concerts for 15 years. Howard said the shows are a nice change of pace from watching television.

"All you hear on television is rock and country," Howard said. "After awhile, you get tired of all that jazz."

Not everyone at the park on Sunday evenings has been attending for more than a decade. Many said they came because they knew a performer.

Paul Sick of Chambersburg, Pa., began attending in recent years when his daughter, recent Chambersburg Area Senior High School graduate Amanda Sick, became part of the flute section. Sick said he enjoys each week because he can watch his daughter play with advanced, mature musicians and because of the rotating featured performer of the week, like trumpet soloist Carl Rowe on Sunday.

"It really adds something a little different to each evening," Sick said. "They sound really good."

Whatever the reason, the band seems enthusiastic to play in front of so many supporters.

"Why would we play if no one was here?" Lerew asked. "The enthusiasm rubs off on the band. It makes them more dedicated."

The Hagerstown Municipal Band will continue performing through Aug. 17, as part of its 12-concert summer series on Sundays at 8 p.m.

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