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Swingers dance 'Everybody's Day' away at Pen Mar Park

August 25, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

CASCADE -- At this year's "Everybody's Day," an annual celebration that has drawn crowds to Pen Mar Park since its days as an excursion train destination, dancers Steve and Pam Springer added a fanciful twist to the Pen Mar Park lore.

"The folks in the '20s and '30s, they came up here on the trains, and some of 'em never went home," Steve Springer told the crowd that gathered around the Lindy Hop dance floor. "They live up here in the woods."

Sure enough, a bespectacled woman in a bathrobe and bedroom slippers pushed her way through the crowd, munching on bon bons and asking men in the audience to dance. Then, hidden behind a human shield of colorful zoot suits, she transformed into Pam Springer, the vibrant dance teacher who, with her husband, helps transport Everybody's Day guests back in time each year with Lindy Hop demonstrations.

"Our purpose is to preserve the original swing dance," explained Steve Springer, who teaches at Hub City Lindy Hop at St. Joseph Church in Hagerstown. That mission gets more important each year, as the original swing-dancing generation finds its way onto the dance floor less and less, Springer said.

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"That generation of folks is leaving us pretty rapidly," he said.

Still, with the popularity of swing lessons from the Springers and other local teachers, there were plenty of couples to fill the Pen Mar Park dance pavilion Sunday when the Josh Tindall Orchestra struck up the big-band hits.

"It's a very appreciative crowd," said Jeffrey Thompson, a baritone saxophone player in the orchestra.

"In general, there's not a lot of venues for big band, so to be able to play for this many people and have them enjoy it is great," added alto saxophone player Aram Piligian.

Sunday was the formal debut of the Josh Tindall Orchestra, a big-band group that includes members of Pen Mar Park favorite The Headliners. Tindall said Pen Mar Park music coordinator Jim Powers approached him this year about putting together a big-band group. Tindall, who teaches music at Lebanon Valley College, recruited members of the college's orchestra to fill out his group. The entire horn section is made up of Lebanon Valley students, Tindall said.

Audience members received the new orchestra warmly.

"They're fabulous," said Judy Verdier, 61, of Maugansville, a regular at Pen Mar Park's weekly summer concerts. "They don't miss a beat. When you hear their music, you walk right out on the floor."

Powers, who is executive secretary of the American Federation of Musicians Local 770, said the Josh Tindall Orchestra earned a place among the region's top big-band groups. The Josh Tindall Orchestra, the Ray Birely Orchestra and the Martinsburg Jazz Orchestra will be the permanent big bands featured at Pen Mar Park in future concert seasons, Powers said.

Jack Leeti, 82, of Chambersburg, Pa., said he liked the variety of music the Josh Tindall Orchestra played. The band's selections Sunday gave dancers a chance to jitterbug, waltz, rumba, fox trot, mambo and polka.

"They're very lively," said Katherine Nave, 75, of Fairplay, who enjoyed the music from a bench. "It keeps you entertained."

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