City band will have new summer home
'Amazing' Worthington City Band will perform in Centennial Park as work continues at Chautauqua Park
WORTHINGTON — Strike up the band!
The “Amazing” Worthington City Band, which had a shorter season and limited participation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will return at full strength with a summer concert series that starts with the traditional Memorial Day opener.
One thing will be different, though — the venue.
Due to planned work throughout the summer in Chautauqua Park, the city band will perform in another one of Worthington’s well-loved sites along Lake Okabena — Centennial Park.
“The city and band have tentatively agreed on using space south of the shelter house in Centennial Park for performances on Wednesday nights and Memorial Day,” Worthington Director of Public Works Todd Wietzema said Friday morning. “The shelter house will not be rented during concert nights, but there will be seating available there and additional seating will also be brought in.
“Concert-goers are also encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the open greenspace,” he added.
In addition to Memorial Day and Sunday, July 4, the city band will perform on each of June’s five Wednesdays (2, 9, 16, 23, 30) as well as on July 7, 14 and 21.
“We’re really excited for the upcoming band season and to have the chance at a beautiful location,” said longtime band member Rich Besel, who was visiting with Wietzema inside Centennial Park on Friday. “It will be great to have people gather together outside, and to have the full band able to perform.”
Besel expressed gratitude to the Spirit of Worthington Trojan Marching Band for letting the city band use its trailer for storage of musical equipment, and getting it to Centennial Park for concerts.
The “Amazing” Worthington City Band will present its 128th season of music this summer, and plans are to return to its familiar site in Chautauqua Park in 2022. Wietzema outlined a number of changes the park has both made and has in store.
“We’ve already got the new all-inclusive playground equipment up,” said Wietzema, noting the new equipment was made possible by the gift of $257,000 from Worthington Early Risers Kiwanis and the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation as well as $100,000 in city funds.
“We have some sidewalks and curbs that will go in next, and there will be some surfacing that goes in after that. The final completion will be to do the landscaping around it,” he continued. “We’re hoping that will be done around July 1 to have it done. … It’s not so much (dependent on) COVID, but everyone’s so busy and trying to schedule all this is difficult.”
The restroom building at Chautauqua Park is also being completely redone, with Van Grouw Construction poised to get started on that. Work is expected to be finished around Sept. 15.
“It will be comparable to some of the new restrooms that we’ve completed this past year with men’s, women’s and family rooms and a drinking fountain,” Wietzema said.
There’s also the matter of making needed improvements to the bandshell, which Wietzema stressed are being carefully considered with history in mind. Work will include new siding, shingles and doors, as well as refurbishing the stage.
“We want to keep it as original as we possibly can,” he said. “I know our architect is working with the national historic registry to make sure we get approval of what we do to it.”
Wietzema said the city will begin taking quotes as soon as plans for the work are finalized. Improvements to the bandshell — as well as other work inside Chautauqua Park — are expected to be wrapped up by Sept. 15.
“One additional thing that’s going to be much nicer is that when you walk out of the bathroom now, you walk right onto the road,” he added, noting that the park is also getting its electrical network thoroughly redone through Worthington Public Utilities. “We’re going to shift the road a little bit; that’s for safety.”
Close to $1 million will likely be spent on the various improvements to Chautauqua Park this summer, Wietzema said. The work is made possible through money generated by the voter-approved local option sales tax.
In the meantime, the park will be more or less shut down for the summer, as the road through the park is closed and the shelter house will not be rented. People may still use available green space within the park itself, but will not be able to drive through it or have coordinated activities there.
Centennial Park — already home to a new Beach Nook building, not to mention a new shelter house, splash pad and modern playground equipment — should be more popular than ever. The weekly summer band concerts will be one more enticing attraction.
“Knowing how important the Worthington band is and the tradition they have of playing in the bandshell, the city wanted to offer the use of Centennial Park for the upcoming band season,” Wietzema said. “I think it will work out great for them.”