Music in the Park series begins in Marietta

MARIETTA – Thursday evening’s Music In The Park kickoff hosted almost 100 for easy listening in Muskingum Park and a beautiful nearly-summer setting.

Hosted by The Marietta Welfare League, the annual event brings local and regional music acts of all genres to Marietta at the Muskingum Park gazebo on Front Street.

“It brings the community together in a different way than most live music settings,” said Scott Kitchen, djembe drum player and one-third of the pop trio Duende that played Thursday. “We were lucky tonight with perfect weather as well.”

Last Thursday’s planned first event was canceled due to potential thunderstorms, so Duende became the summer season opener.

Kitchen, along with lead singer Hanah Coe and guitarist Mark Hendershot, played popular music from the 1950s to today as well as easy listening favorites and even some mainstream Christian music.

From 7 to 8 p.m. Mid-Ohio Valley residents enjoyed music and socialization while children played freely in the park. Welfare League Publicity Chair Trisha Miller said the “Music In The Park” Series has been going on for more than 30 years and continues to grow.

“We started this to celebrate the contributions the league and other organizations, made to add the gazebo to Muskingum Park,” explained Miller. “It also means a lot to us to be able to showcase local and regional talent and to bring it to our community.”

The Marietta Welfare League, which currently includes 32 female members, was established 89 years ago and grants thousands of dollars to charities, schools and not-for-profit groups in the area through fundraising efforts like The Shoe Tag Fund and The League Shop within Marietta Memorial Hospital.

On an average Thursday evening, the series sees approximately 100 residents, entertaining them with a variety of genres from classic country and bluegrass to praise and worship groups.

“These acts have developed quite a following from the long-running series,” Miller said. “When we have the Marietta High School band or choir play, they draw a huge crowd as wellprobably 300 people.”

Thirteen acts in total will run through August in the park.

“This is such a blessing to have in our city,” said Edie Marshall, 72, of Marietta. “I look forward to it every year. The music is always amazing, it’s easy to listen to and the atmosphere is casual and social.”

The Welfare League is hoping to continue the series for years to come while continuing to add new acts.

“New to 2016 is the addition of the Marietta Children’s Choir, so we are excited about that,” said Evy Bryant, committee member.

For returning attendee Dale Niehardt, the free event allows him to bring his family together and get them outside and enjoying music.

“There’s not a better place to host it,” Niehardt, 60, said. “They continue to bring back favorites like the Praise Alpha and Omega’s but also new musicians to keep it entertaining. It’s a nice blend.”

Coming up next Thursday will be the country and variety group The Tunesmiths. Full list of music acts is as follows: Praise Alpha & Omega, Still Crazy, Jerry & Lisa Queen with the Neon Moon Band, Levi Westfall, Tiffany CasaSante Voice Studio, Karl Kesselring, 5th Street Quartet, Marietta Children’s Choir, Vocal Point and The Wall of Sound.

To learn more about the music series or the Marietta Welfare League, email mwleague@email.com or search for their fan page on Facebook.