Children unabashedly held hands and danced on the cement slab in front of the Whitmore Park gazebo on a cool Tuesday evening, June 7 as Greg Scudder and the Beer:30 band launched the city's Concerts in the Park series with lively country songs, many of them originals.
"This is a good turnout," said Lee Brandt, who was occupying a lawn chair next to wife Sheila. "It's awesome."
The first of seven concerts drew approximately 300 persons and had the feel of a happy community event, with Ceres residents scattered about the park, some parked on blankets. The first dancing occurred when two carefree audience members, Laura Slater and Michelle Robinson, got up hand in hand and ended laughing so hard they had to quit.
Standing just behind lawn chair seated former county Supervisor Paul Caruso and wife Sharon were Sharon Vogel and Stanley Shannon, who were doting over their two-week-old daughter Comale Shannon.
"This is her first concert," said Stanley, who added that his sleeping daughter appeared to be smiling when the band struck up.
On the Third Street side of the park, a row of tent-covered commercial and produce vendors drew interest of customers. Frank and Irma Cardenas were selecting fresh fruit at the booth operated by Ruiz Produce of Hughson. The offering of a new hybrid fruit, a cross between apricots and peaches, piqued the interest of some shoppers.
In the back of the park, members of the Ceres Lions Club were busy barbecuing and selling tri-tip sandwiches.
On the other side of the park, Renee Ledbetter and husband Steve was busy selling beer while next to their booth Dovie Wilson was busy selling Concert Cash Passes for $35 each. Holders of the pass are offered a chance to win $500 at each concert. Winners have repeat chances to win. If winners are not present, they win $250 and a second winner is drawn to split the money pot. Concert Cash Passes are on sale at the Chamber office in downtown Ceres.
Turlock resident Cristina Stone was busy painting the face of her daughter, Annalise and other children for $3 and $5 depending on the art.
The city-sponsored Concerts in the Park series will be held Tuesday evenings, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Whitmore Park in downtown Ceres until July 19. There is no admission for attendance.
Last night was Throw Back on with Cloak & Dagger, a cover band for MTV 80s and 90s music. The evening was sponsored by the Ryno Family and featured pizza, hot wings and salad sides from Rico's Pizza.
The concert season includes:
• Graffiti Night, complete with classic car show, set for June 21 with hamburgers and hot dogs served by Howard Training Center Traveling Café. Fifties music will be provided by River Rising Band;
• The Patty Castillo-Davis Band on June 28, which will be Kids Night, sponsored by Steps Dance Art Center. Intermission will include a dance exhibition and fun for the little ones include arts and crafts, face painting and a balloon artist;
• The Gottschalks Music Center Jazz Band on July 5 for Patriotic Night, sponsored by American Pet Clinic. Intermission brings on a "Cutest Pet" competition. Food for the night will be Americana at its best;
• Church Night on July 12, a music compilation from Ceres area churches, sponsored by La Cascada Mexican Restaurant. Food will be themed Taco Tuesday. A memorial tribute will be made to Tim Edwards, who for many years led Church Night and passed away a few months ago.
• Local reggae band A La Lune, with the Fun Strummers Ukulele Band during Tiki Tuesday on July 19. Food for the evening will be supplied by Hardy Appetitez On-Site Catering with teriyaki chicken. A Hawaiian shirt and hula contest will keep the audience entertained during intermission.