When I tell people that I live just outside Chicago, I think most of them think of stereotypical suburban life. They get a mental picture of town after town, filled with strip malls, hyperplanned subdivisions, and minivans. And to an extent, that’s pretty accurate — especially about the minivans.
But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that each one has its own character. Whether it’s a cardboard boat race every 4th of July, a Highland Games, or a week-long Swedish Days Festival, most of the suburbs around me distinguish themselves in their annual celebrations and traditions. I guess when you’re one of about a hundred towns located around a big city like Chicago, you have to up your game.
Case in point: one of the suburbs near me has its own municipal band.
It’s amazing really. For 84 years, supported by the city government, local businesses and Friends of the Band, they have performed an entire summer concert season. Local musicians — from professionals to high school students — audition for the privilege of performing weekly. There’s even a band shell in the town’s central park, and as twilight falls, the music soars.
They recently had a children’s concert, and as pre-show entertainment, they encouraged the kids to go to the “instrument petting zoo” and try out different instruments.
The kids got to try their chops on a whole range of other instruments, and there was even a drum set available. For each, one of the band members stood by, patiently explaining how to hold it and how to play it.
The twins were all over this opportunity. They tried all the instruments they could and loved every second of it. My son C got some good sound out of the bassoon, so I thought that might be his favorite. No dice. He loved the blare of the trumpet. My daughter E claimed her favorite was the tuba, otherwise known as “The Instrument That’s Almost Bigger Than She Is.”
I better start saving for instrument rental — not to mention some serious soundproofing.
Does your town have any annual summer traditions or celebrations?