While 4th of July weekend is often cluttered with barbecues and other social get-togethers, some local residents chose to end their weekend at Manor Park in Larchmont last night to enjoy some patriotic, dixieland tunes. With beach chairs and blankets in hand, about 60 listeners gathered off the gazebo overlooking the Long Island Sound to enjoy the musical accompaniment of The Dixie Dandies, a local brass band.
The band rolled through various New Orleans style jazz numbers while donning straw hats and red striped vests, causing numerous residents strolling through the park to stop and enjoy for a bit. Popular arrangements such as "Basin Street Blues" had the audience snapping fingers and tapping their knees, simulating the drum beat to the point that some families looked like they were ready to play with the band themselves.
"It's great that we have beautiful weather here and you can't beat this scenery," said Al Fennell, drummer and leader of The Dixie Dandies the past two years. "We bring back the old favorites that people don't sing anymore but everybody loves around this time of the year."
Fennell has been a member of the band since 1976 and along with his wife, Alice Fennell, is in charge of hiring musicians from Westchester and the surrounding area to play. While some members travel from Connecticut and New York City, this particular seven-piece collective last night included a Larchmont resident, Richie Williams.
Many in attendance had made it a tradition to spend their holiday every year at Manor Park with friends or by bringing their families that were in town visiting.
"We come here all the time and this is the perfect 4th of July so we are having a wonderful time," said Carl Landegger during intermission, on his way to show his grandchildren the rocks off the Long Island Sound that he used to climb when he was their age.
The show went out with a bang at around 9:15 when the band played tunes such as the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful, synchronized to be played as fireworks started shooting into the sky from a boat stationed off near the park.
"Most of the songs are about grand old flags and our country and what it stands for," said David Lees. "I think it's a beautiful thing to have these guys get together and perform for us."
The annual 4th of July concert is the only one held in the summer at Manor Park. Starting this Thursday, the Village of Larchmont and the Committee on the Arts kick off their "Concerts in the Park" series at Flint Park, with new entertainment provided every week in July:
- July 8 - Bill Steely and Where's Dave
- July 15 - Twist of Fate
- July 22 - Kevin McIntyre and The Lawn Wranglers
- July 29 - Trevor McKay and Friends
* All of these concerts begin at 7:15 pm.
"It's an old fashioned way to celebrate," said Claire Kubasik. "I'd like it if more people were here and hope the word will spread because it's such a delightful evening here."