Bonner City Band concerts mark official start of summer
When does summer officially start in Bonner Springs, Edwardsville or Basehor?
In my opinion, and that of many others, it isn’t the end of school or the opening of the swimming pool or city recreation programs. It’s not even the first opening of the Royals or Sporting KC season or the first outdoor barbecue. It isn’t even the first mosquito bite of the season. As far as I’m concerned since the early 1980s, the official opening of summer is the first concert by the Bonner Springs City Ban
The band brings many people of all ages to the city and is one of the most popular events in the city. It has from 60 to 90 musicians playing each week. In all, a total of 110 musicians take part in the program. Band members come from all area communities including Bonner Springs, Basehor, Edwardsville, Kansas City, Kan., Lansing, Leavenworth, Linwood, Shawnee, Olathe, Lenexa and Overland Park to mention a few. I know I’ve probably forgotten some communities, and I’m sure I’ll hear about my blooper.
The concerts start at 8:30 p.m. at the bandstand in Kelly Murphy Park and in case of inclement weather the performance is moved to the Bonner Springs High School cafeteria. A community organization sponsors a fund-raising ice cream social during the concert. The evening is always completed by 9:30 p.m. This year the season starts on June 12.
Concerts are on Thursday evenings except for the end of this month. The Fourth of July patriotic concert has been moved to Saturday, June 28, and will be part of the Bonner Blast fireworks show. There will be a concert on June 26, however no concert is scheduled for July 3. The final concert of the year is during Tiblow Days.
The city band has been a tradition in Bonner Springs for more than a century. The Bonner Springs Band Commission is in charge of the program. The commission is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council and is a community supported recreation program. Don Wheeler is chairperson of the commission. Dana Wright is vice chair and Dani Gurley is secretary. The commission members are David Tisch, Etta Cox, Kristen Christensen, Elaine Berg and myself. Jessica Christensen is the student representative.
The Bonner Springs band is unique since musicians of any age and talent level are welcomed as members. The city band has participants ranging in age from early teens to 80 and older. It is truly a great experience to watch young beginners learning from experienced musicians. Many of the “mature” band members have been part of the program for more than 20 years. It is truly a recreational experience for all ages.
Much of the band’s growth can be credited to the late Larry Berg, who died a week before the season began in 2011. The band commission stepped up to make sure to season was a success as an honor to Larry. Larry worked tirelessly to build the struggling program in the 1980s to one of the most respected bands in the area. The program was lucky to have two quality directors. Bill Turley, Bonner Springs High School, is the director, with Aaron Hall, Patton Jr. High, as assistant director.
The entire concert evening is pure Americana — a throwback of times past. It is based on volunteerism and the desire for a good, old-fashioned event. Larry got me involved as announcer in 1982, and I’ve been telling bad jokes ever since, except for 2010 when I was on the “injured reserve list.” Jeff Harrington volunteered to step in and now we work together at the concerts. There are weekly drawings for small gift from local merchants.
I invite you to attend one of the concerts for an enjoyable fun event. One thing I can promise is the jokes haven’t improved.