CEDAR RAPIDS — A new, mobile band shell is to be dedicated to the community this weekend — meaning more free concerts are in store.
A dedication ceremony for the new shell takes place beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Bever Park, 2700 Bever Ave. SE, during the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band concert.
A “Get on the Bandwagon” capital campaign helped Cedar Rapids community performers raise more than $138,000 from 275 public and private donors to purchase the Wenger Showmobile, first used on June 8. The city contributed $10,000.
“I have been delighted to see the outpouring of support for the new band shell, though I must admit that I am not surprised,” said Steve Shanley, conductor of the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band. “This once again confirms to me that we live in a special community, where music and the arts hold great value.”
The band shell, purchased from Minnesota-based Wenger Corp., is to be used for a variety of community activities, including KCCK’s popular Jazz Under the Stars series in Noelridge Park.
The new shell replaces a city-owned shell that was first used in 1959, said Shanley, who began directing the municipal band in 2011.
“Having a portable stage like that allows us to give a concert anywhere in any of the parks, anywhere in the city or on any city street,” Shanley has said. “It allows us a great flexibility.”
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In 2014, city officials sent a letter to all past users of the former, shell saying it had fallen into disrepair and there was no plan to replace it.
Dennis Green, general manager for KCCK Radio, said he understood the challenges organizations would face if they had to pay for a stage every time they hosted a community event.
“We think that it is a valuable service and amenity to bring entertainment to people where they are,” he said.
A small committee brought the issue to the attention of city council members and the mayor, who all agreed a mobile shell was important for the community. They agreed to donate to the project if the committee raised the majority of the funds first, Green said.
“We thought that it might take two years, and we did it in a single summer,” he said of the fundraising effort.
Sunday’s event is free to the public. Cedar Rapids native and Grammy Award winning composer Michael Daugherty is to guest conduct a portion of the concert.
During the dedication ceremony, a plaque listing names of all donors who gave $100 or more is to be unveiled. A donor recognition reception follows the concert.