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East Sacramento set to rock this month

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 Grab your blankets and lawn chairs and and get ready to enjoy those June nights. East Sacramento is gearing up for this year’s annual Pops in the Park concerts, starting Saturday with the country band Whiskey Dawn at East Portal Park.

Pops in the Park began in 1991. “The Sacramento Symphony did outdoor concerts in every council district in order to pay back the community,” recalled Councilman Steve Cohn. The concerts took place in the afternoon, but because of the heat, Cohn said attendance usually was low. Upon entering the city council, Once he became a council member, Cohn decided to change things. “I decided to do evening concerts and do a series and get really good bands that folks would really enjoy,” he said. The evening series has been running annually since 1995.

“It’s kind of almost like a more innocent time,” Cohn said of the series. “You see every age from newborns to 90-plus year olds.”

In the past, concerts had jumphouses and face-painting for the kids, but Cohn said now the committee tries to keep it simple.

“We found that the kids actually have more fun hanging out in the park with all those people,” he said. “We really don’t need to have much else. People entertain themselves.” Attendance at the concerts ranges from 3,000 to 4,000.

Planning for the concerts is a year-round event. Sue Brown, Cohn’s district director, does much of it. Along with Cohn and a team of volunteers, she obtains sponsors by the end of the year, and has the lineup figured out at the beginning of the next year.

The Kiwanis Club once again will raise money by selling hot dogs, pizza and hamburgers. The concerts also feature a beer and wine garden. All the proceeds go back into the community.

“We decided to use the Pops money to put towards neighborhood parks,” Cohn said. “In the past, we’ve done a lot of improvement and enhancements to parks.”

The money has helped to build playgrounds and the plaza and fountain at 45th and N streets. This year’s funds will go to something a little different. “Most of it this year is going to keep the Glenn Hall, Bertha Henschel and McKinley Park pools open for recreational swims,” Cohn said.

Performances will include Beatles tribute band Because playing at Glenn Hall Park on June 12. SwingMasters will bring its big-band sound to Bertha Henschel Park on June 19, and The Q-Balls will wrap up the series with classic rock at McKinley Park on June 26. The Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates will be provide free bicycle parking in an area with attendants.

There will be more fun later in the summer with the fifth annual Screen on the Green. Every August Saturday evening, movie lovers can see family flicks in East Sacramento parks. For more information on the events, visit http://sacscreenonthegreen.com/ and http://eastsacpopsinthepark.com.


All images courtesy of the Pops in the Park and Screen on the Green websites

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