Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thursday in the park by Little Chicago June 27, 2020

A portion of the crowd enjoying Little Chicago’s June 25 concert at Central Park in Faribault.

 

ANY OTHER SUMMER, and I wouldn’t consider a concert in the park anything but typical for a Thursday evening in Faribault. The weekly warm weather concerts have been part of my community’s history now for 134 years. But these are the days of a global pandemic. Yet, not even COVID-19 can stop this music tradition.

 

Many couples brought their lawn chairs and found a social-distancing spot in the park.

 

Central Park sits in Faribault’s downtown area, along Second Avenue across from the historic Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour.

 

Some folks opted to sit on park benches near the stage.

 

Thursday evening I attended my first 2020 summer concert organized by the Faribault Parks and Recreation Department and sponsored by area businesses. Things looked a bit different. The vast crowd was spread throughout the block-square Central Park, mostly adhering to CDC social-distancing guidelines. Some wore masks, especially when coming to and leaving the park.

 

Loved the 60s and 70s hits performed by Little Chicago.

 

Randy and I settled at the back of the gathering to enjoy the music of Little Chicago, a New Prague-based cover band for hits from the 60s and 70s. Our music. Songs by The Grassroots, Chicago, the Turtles, Neil Diamond… Familiar hits that took me back to my teen years, especially songs like “Color My World” and “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago, one of my all-time favorite bands.

 

Thumbing through a book while enjoying the concert…

 

As I listened, swung my foot and occasionally sang along to songs like “Happy Together” and “Sweet Caroline,” (who can resist?), I watched. I am an observer. Taking in the setting and the people and the experience.

 

All ages attended the concert, with more young families than I’ve seen in past years.

 

What a beautiful evening for a concert with pleasant temps and a stir of a breeze as the day edged toward sunset.

 

Most people arrived via vehicle. But some also walked and biked.

 

I noticed a difference in this year’s crowd with more young families in attendance. Typically, these concerts draw older folks like me. But I watched kids arrive—in red wagons, on trikes, in strollers—with parents and grandparents. And then dance, play, toss balls. Simply enjoying the exceptionally beautiful summer evening outdoors. It reminded me of all the years we brought our own three children here to do the same.

 

Visiting…

 

I saw quite a few dogs, all under control and well-behaved.

 

Little Chicago’s homemade sign banners the base of the bandshell where folks enjoy the music.

 

I watched as people swayed their hands, as a couple danced, as dog owners circled their dogs around the park. It all looked so normal. If not for the lawn chairs spaced far apart, the face masks, the reminder in the back of my brain, I would have considered this just any other Thursday summer evening in Central Park. For a few hours, it felt that way, as if COVID-19 had exited and only the music of summer played.

 

One final look at the crowd-pleasing band, Little Chicago.

 

FYI: The Lakerlanders Barbershop Chorus performs at the next free concert set for 7 pm Thursday, July 2, in Faribault’s Central Park.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

6 Responses to “Thursday in the park by Little Chicago”

  1. It nice to see that Faribault hasn’t cancelled these concerts in the park. So many things have been cancelled, so disheartening! Do you and Randy go every Thursday?

    • The concerts only just started, with two thus far and the first was mostly rained out. We try to attend every week. It’s something to do, which we enjoy and feel comfortable in the outdoor setting with social-distancing. I’m thankful so many events have been cancelled because too many people simply do not follow CDC guidelines to mask and social-distance. Just yesterday I had to ask a guy to give us some space so we could walk by him, past a group lingering on a sidewalk. Yes, we were outdoors, which helps. But still, I didn’t want to walk that close and there was no other option to safely get to the parking lot. This was in southwestern Minnesota. (We “visited” my mom yesterday at her care center.)

  2. valeriebollinger Says:

    The concert sounds like a great activity to resume. Maybe we’ll make it down too hear one some Thursday… they haven’t started up in Northfield yet.

  3. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    I’m jealous, but as you say, the conscientious and respectful effort to maintain distancing is getting looser attention. Thanks for the band link. Didn’t realize there were many small bands still making the small town circuit. They are good! Nice to see the park and band shell in “motion” under summer skies. Enjoy!!


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