Sounds of rock, blues and a bit of soul filled the air Sunday at Arnold for the annual Rockin’ Roosevelt fundraiser at Roosevelt Park.
Hundreds of people flocked to the recreation site in the center of town.
Resident Wesslyn Owen watched her children and family friends having fun on the playgrounds as the groups played.
“It’s something to do to get the kids out,” Owen said. “It’s the first time I’ve been here in a while. It’s been a fun day while I’m here.
Bands played from noon to 8 p.m. at what is colloquially known as the Clam Shell on the side of the park near the basketball court.
Other activities included a 50-50 raffle, face painting, food trucks, and various vendors selling jewelry, clothing, toys, and CBD products.
The event was presented by the New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park Committee, a nine-member group of Arnold and New Kensington residents.
Committee member Dano Galie served as master of ceremonies and stage manager. He booked 11 groups who volunteered their time and talents to raise money for the park.
Galie said he and his family owned Fawn Tavern in Fawn in the 1990s and were able to form many musical relationships.
“All bands are my friends,” Galie said. “I live two and a half blocks from here. It’s my park. I give back to the city because this place was open to me as I was growing every day.
“Today’s turnout is fantastic. The weather is fantastic. It’s not too hot. They came even when it was 100 (degrees). They came when it was snowing.
Musicians began signing up for the fundraiser in January. Each group played a half-hour set.
Big House Pete frontman Paul Peterson of Lower Burrell savored his time on stage playing original tunes for a diverse crowd.
“I love playing music, (and) I love the cause,” he said. “I love seeing the community come together. You have blacks, whites, Latinos. We all come together. We all have a good time, family, friends, and it’s a good cause. I feel honored to be here. Just like my band mates. We are all grateful and honored to be here. It’s a good feeling.
Big House Pete followed Heidi & the Hellcats, who played some rock ‘n’ roll classics.
New Kensington’s Jason Oskin, a Hellcat and husband to Heidi, echoed Peterson’s sentiments.
“We do what we love, and we love helping people,” Oskin said. “My wife grew up here and was always at the park as a child. She feels like she’s giving back, being able to hang out and play here too. A few years ago (ago) we had a lot of rain on the Rockin’ Roosevelt, but it was one of the best weather nights we’ve had. It makes things much easier.
Freddye Stover of the North Hills, known in the musical circuits as “Miss Freddye”, brought her blues band to Arnold. This was the ninth year she had supported the city’s recreation efforts.
“I love doing this because I’m still doing charity work with my music,” she said. “When Dano asked me to do it, absolutely anything to help the kids maintain something like that. I don’t see. It’s my chance to see a lot. I listen to different styles of music, from classical piano to hip-hop and in between.
Event coordinator Lou Downard said the committee has held a summer fundraiser at Roosevelt Park almost every year since 2013. It was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“We’re having a very organized event,” Downard, 64, said. “Sometimes it’s like organized chaos, but the concert is going very well. We have a lot of families here. We remain family-oriented. You go to the playground, there are children there This is what we want to see.
Organizers hoped to raise about $3,000. Admission was $5 per person.
The committee hosts a fall fundraiser at Memorial Park in Arnold.
Mayor Joe Bia congratulated the organizers and volunteers for their efforts.
“These guys have everything set up well in advance,” Bia said. “It’s a one-year project. They are constantly working on it. It brings together a lot of people. It gets people out of their homes, a lot of people have fun. There is no problem.
“They do a lot of hard work for no personal reward other than seeing something well done for the community.”
Potential park upgrades include security cameras to help prevent vandalism.
Bia said he would like to see the fence around Roosevelt Park come down and open year-round, but criminal mischief is a concern.
“It’s in the center of the community,” he says. “Kids who just want to come across the street and use the park, they don’t need their parents to drive them anywhere. … I want to see the park open every day of the year.
“When we open it there is a lot of vandalism and we need the community to police themselves. We need people to take responsibility for what is happening and appreciate what we have instead of just destroying it.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .