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Concert series starts swingin'

May 28, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

CASCADE - For 10-year-old sisters in swing, the sounds of a bygone era still resonate.

At Pen Mar Park, Big Band and swing dancers sweat in the summer heat.

"Because it looks like fun, and it's good exercise," said 10-year-old MacKenzie Morganthal, of Zullinger, Pa., who was trying to learn new dance moves with her twin sister, Isabella, at the park.

Pen Mar's Summer Concert Series got into full swing Sunday as the 16-piece Martinsburg Jazz Orchestra took the stage.

The smell of hamburgers on the grill wafted in the air, as hundreds of people sitting on folding chairs and park benches listened to the music. Under the pavilion, where the band was playing, novices like the Morganthal sisters joined dancers with decades of experience. Couples twirled, spun and kicked as the beginners shuffled back and forth.

"We steal a lot of moves from the people on the dance floor," conceded Mary Jean Bechard of Waynesboro, Pa., who was sitting in the shade near the pavilion with her husband, Dennis Bechard.

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The Bechards said they just celebrated 30 years of marriage, but they only have been dancing about eight years. While Dennis Bechard said he's glad he and his wife took up the activity, Mary Jean Bechard expressed one regret.

"Yeah, we wasted quite a few years before we started dancing," she said.

Having an enthusiastic audience is one reason trumpeter Orren Bethel said he loves to play at the park.

"It's one of our favorite places; the people are just so appreciative. When lots of people dance, it just makes us play better," Bethel said.

Keyboardist Gene Sprenkle of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he enjoys the audience, but he can't join them - he can't dance.

When people tell him his musicality should extend to the dance floor, Sprenkle has a rejoinder.

"We have capable fingers, but two left feet, so forget the feet," Sprenkle said.

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