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Concerts in the Park series kicks off

Posted: July 12, 2014 9:52 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2014 9:52 p.m.

Thousands watch the band DSB perform at Central Park in the first of the city of Santa Clarita's Concert in the Park series

The old adage about the early bird and the worm wasn’t lost on the thousands of people like Canyon Country residents Julio and Martha Luna who arrived hours before the 7 p.m. start of the kickoff performance of Santa Clarita’s 25th annual Concerts in the Park series.

More than an hour before Journey tribute band DSB — which takes its name from Journey’s rock anthem, “Don’t Stop Believing” — hit the stage at Central Park, parking already was at a premium, and spots on side streets off Bouquet Canyon Road were quickly filling up.

City officials estimated 10,000 people, arriving in cars, motorcycles, on bikes and on foot, packed the park for the free event, making it “probably the biggest one of the year,” said Mike Fleming, the city’s festival organizer.

“People are coming from far and wide, ” Fleming said.

Big crowds are expected throughout this summer’s concert series, after organizers decided to mark the 25th anniversary by bringing back “the most requested bands and the most popular bands, based on how many people showed up” to the shows in years past, Fleming said.

Luna said he and his wife have attended nearly every concert since the series began and have seen the scene evolve.

“It’s grown tremendously,” he said. “When we first started coming people would just bring a blanket to sit on, or they’d just stand or sit on the grass.”

Concert-going has become a lot more elaborate over the past 25 years, Fleming said, with people bringing “all the latest camping gear.”

“You know how it is — people try to one-up each other. I saw one guy with an inflatable couch,” he said.

Some families brought collapsible tables and played cards or dominoes as DSB wailed through its set of versions of “Anyway You Want It” and other Journey hits. With beach balls soaring over their heads the crowd stretched about a quarter mile from the stage.

Joining the steady stream of people arriving early for the show, Kim and Eric Bolstad of Simi Valley lucked out and found a parking space on Festividad Drive, about a half-mile from Central Park. It was worth the walk, Kim said.

“We were expecting this, we were warned about the crowds,” said Kim, lugging a lawn chair and a picnic basket.

Despite the throngs of people, Fleming and local sheriff’s officials said they’ve never experienced any serious issues at Concerts in the Park shows.

“When you think about it, ten thousand people in a park like this, packed together, could present problems, but we just don’t have them,” said Fleming. “Everybody is nice to their neighbors. People are considerate. It’s a testament to our town. We live in a good town.”

The series continues through Aug. 30. Next up will be country singer Suzanne Harper on July 19.


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