Taxi Driver

MICHELLE IRIONS of Taxi Driver gives a welcome to the Norfolk crowd between songs at Skyview Park on Thursday evening.

In recent years, one of the best ways to celebrate summer is by attending an outdoor concert at Skyview Park.

With great bands, great friends, great weather and one’s favorite beverage, it is bound to be a great time.

“Music is awesome,” said Randy Anderson of Norfolk, who was attending the performance by Santana Tribute and Taxi Driver on Thursday with his wife, Traci. “Add a cold beverage and it doesn’t get better than that.”

Thursday’s Music in the Park concert was the fourth this year for the series, with a five-hour extravaganza and three bands still planned for Sunday, Sept. 1, before Labor Day.

“We don’t miss many,” Anderson said. “This year, I think we have come to every one of them. We’ll be here for the Labor Day one. We’re looking forward to that.”

The Andersons, like most of the more than 1,500 people estimated to have attended, sat on lawn chairs. Anderson said he recently attended an outdoor concert at Stinson Park in Omaha, which also is a great venue to watch a concert.

“Anything like this is great,” Anderson said. “And it’s great for the community.”

Travis Hanson of Pierce was attending Music in the Park for the first time this year. He was watching under the Nucor tent, one of the corporate sponsors that had set up tents Thursday.

Hanson said Nucor has a wellness committee that brought fruit treats like watermelon, grapes, bananas and water for its employees to enjoy.

Hanson, who began working for Vulcraft in 2003, said he likes all types of music.

“Rock, classic rock are my favorites,” he said. “They were playing Santana earlier. I enjoyed it.”

Pat Boyle of Norfolk was attending the concert with his wife, Ellen, and other family members, including two of his 10 grandchildren.

“This is what the Midwest is all about,” he said. “People out here are having fun. You have friends, kids, family, food and drink. It’s a good time.”

Among those attending with the Boyles were his grandparents and his grandchildren, representing multiple generations of his family.

Stan Christiansen, who came up with the idea to have Music in the Park, said he was pleased with Thursday’s crowd. This is the eighth year for the event, which is organized by Christiansen and the Norfolk Rotary Club.

“I pick out the bands,” he said. “If someone doesn’t like it, it is my fault. I pick out the music I like to hear.”

Taxi Driver had the crowd dancing, including what looked like four generations joining together to dance in front of the concrete pad in front of the stage. This is the third time Taxi Driver has performed at Music in the Park.

Christiansen said sponsors and “just a buck” donations help to pay for the concerts.

“It’s fun to see families come out and tailgate,” he said. “They can bring their own food and beverage. It’s nice and safe. I’m pleased with what it does for the community. I get a lot of positive comments.”

Despite the massive crowds, everyone is well behaved at Music in the Park. People drove in orderly and follow the parking directions, parking in grass lots and on the sides of streets.

Christiansen said the concerts have worked well and fill a need in the community. Tuesday was the 32nd concert in the series.

“We’ve never had a nickel’s worth of problems,” he said. “People generally pick up after themselves.”

Christiansen said another of the pleasing aspects has been the bands. Sometimes they aren’t sure if they want to make the drive to Norfolk, but after they have done it once, they want to return.

“They love it,” he said. “They want to come back. That makes me feel like we’re doing something right.”

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