Music filled the air Wednesday evening during the first night of the Arts in the Park summer concert and fine arts series. Members of the the La Porte City Band played a variety of music like marches and broadway show tunes, in the picturesque Dennis F. Smith Amphitheater in Fox Memorial Park. With the tagline, “More than just music,” Arts in the Park aims to bring the community together to experience art in a variety of forms, while spending time with family, friends, and neighbors, free of charge.
Chuck Steck, Director of La Porte City Band, pointed out the breathtaking setting. Audience members sat in the grass under leafy trees and watched the band perform against the city skyline above the lake. Steck, a La Porte native and long time member of La Porte City Band, has traveled the country and seen many venues. He believes the Fox Memorial Park to be one of the best in the nation.
“Our concert series is unique because of the setting,” Steck said. “100 years ago, the band first played in Fox park, so it’s a long-running tradition. We love our audience and believe they love us, too!”
Steck said Wednesday night’s performance was about enriching the community with art and bringing people together. He knows many people in the audience, and many band members had family and friends eager to hear their music. In fact, Steck’s 93-year-old mother was in the crowd, never missing a show. For Steck, art is good for the soul.
“These concerts are a place to escape,” Steck said. “We have enough stress in daily life and it’s nice to be able to have something to enjoy.”
Before the band played, Dr. Scott Simerlein, La Porte County Poet Laureate, shared a poem with the crowd. The wordsmith organizes poetry readings for Arts in the Park and loves to share his form of art with the community. His poem was about words in our languages that no one ever uses. His performance was entertaining, educational, and humorous.
“Arts in the Park is a wonderful opportunity that other municipalities just don’t have,” Dr. Simerlein said. “It’s neat that the La Porte City Band is one of the longest running bands in the nation and that the concerts are free to the public.”
According to Lisa Smithson, executive director of Arts in the Park, the La Porte City band is the backbone of the summer concert series, playing 10 out of the 36 different shows in the line-up. Smithson also looks forward to the many highlights of the season, including guitar madness, a hula hoop artist, Indiana Army Band, Aerial Yoga, and Zumba to name a few.
“There are so many neat things coming up,” Smithson said. “I love these concerts because they bring La Porte together.”