Despite storms, crowd turns out for concert

Audience listens to Whiskey Highway country band on Saturday after rain ended at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

AMSTERDAM — Rain kept pouring down, putting a potential damper on the Independence Day concert and fireworks at Riverlink Park late Saturday afternoon. But Steve Porcello of Amsterdam had hope.

“I came to watch the concert and the fireworks. The rain will stop,” he predicted.

Just as adamant was Bonnie Kruger of Amsterdam.

“We planned on coming, and we weren’t going to change our plans. I’m not going to melt,” she said.

Likewise, two children, Aubree Defrancis and Liliana Brownell, both of Amsterdam, were using the gym and slide that were a bit wet. Other people were checking out the area, including the historical markers.

Gabby Murawski of Mayfield was walking around in a balloon dress she made in seven hours while her husband, Scott, was twisting balloons on the overlook bridge to make magic wands, crowns and what kids wanted. They had a long day because both were in the Northville parade earlier. He was on stilts at the parade.

Then the rain stopped, and the Whiskey Highway country band was revving up. The number of people listening multiplied, filling the surrounding hill and what might be called the orchestra seats.

Whiskey Highway was the opening concert in a free series sponsored by the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation that will continue through Aug. 31.

On Saturday, Dark Sarcasm, a Pink Floyd cover band, will perform at 7 p.m. The next day will be Progressive Rock Sunday with Alice Frost—Music of Yes and Dave Porter of 805 at 5 p.m. In between, on Wednesday the Piggly Wigglies, a swing band playing jazz and dance music from the 1920s to 1940s, will perform at 6 p.m.

“We think we’re going to have a really significant crowd this year,” said Sonnet Gravina, president of the nonprofit Waterfront Foundation.

The foundation works in collaboration with the city’s tourism, marketing and recreation department in planning and publicizing events. “People will find it hard to believe we have 250,000 visit our city,” said the department director, Rob Spagnola.

For example, the city’s Italia Fest in September drew almost 10,000 people, he said. “People like things to do,” he said. He said boating traffic is part of that, making Amsterdam a stopping place for waterborne tourists.

By Josh Bovee

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