Musical tribute brings crowd to Pine Lake

CAROGA – Ed Lakata loved playing music at Pine Lake Park.

“He loved this place,” said his wife, Cynthia Lakata, of Johnstown. “He played here since he was a teenager. They used to have Tuesday night dances here, and his band played here every Tuesday. There’s a lot of history here.”

On Saturday, 22 bands came out to Pine Lake Park to play for “The Eddie” – a music festival in honor of Edward Lakata, who died June 25 when his bicycle was struck by a truck. Among the bands playing were Lakata’s own band, “Skyler’s Dream Team,” and his son Austin’s band, “Saving Atlantis.”

“It’s overwhelming. The support, it’s more than we expected,” Cynthia said.

A $5 donation to the Edward Lakata Memorial Scholarship Fund was required for admission to the all-day concert. Proceeds from souvenir sales and raffles at the festival also went to the fund.

Cynthia Lakata said organizers anticipate raising about $10,000 from the festival.

“The scholarship is going to be for graduating high school seniors at Johnstown High School and there will be two scholarships, one for math and science and one for music,” Cynthia said. “Our selection committee for the scholarship isn’t established yet, but we have incorporated the scholarship fund. We do have a board of directors, and my children will also want to be on the committee; they are 25 and 18. It was their idea actually, both the scholarship and [the festival].”

Erika Lakata, 19, Ed’s niece, traveled from her home in San Antonio, Texas, to attend the concert Saturday.

She said it’s definitely fitting that the scholarship should reward good students in math and science and in music, because those were her uncle’s passions. She said he shared his knowledge of music with her.

“I was always big into music, but I never had formal lessons. Eddie always taught me chords, how to mess around on the piano and – because of him – I know how to basically pick up any instrument easily, no problem,” she said.

Ed’s younger brother John Lakata attended the festival Saturday wearing a T-shirt with an image of Eds face on it. John said his entire family is overwhelmed by the support from people at the event.

“It shows what a great community we live in, honestly,” he said. “I knew it would be big, but I never expected it to be this big. It’s awesome, the family, the friends. It shows how many people Eddie touched. Everybody is smiling: This is exactly what Eddie would have wanted.”

Cynthia said she and her family plan to make “The Eddie” an annual music festival to benefit the scholarship fund.

Jason Subik can be reached at [email protected].

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