As the office workers, retail sales staff members, Village employees, and merchants throughout Garden City make a break for the door for lunch between noon and 2 p.m. every day, the sidewalks, benches, and al fresco dining tables reflect the diverse people that make up the Village's business district. Every Thursday night countless Village residents can be seen driving to the Village Hall parking lot and 7N, as well as walking down Hilton and Stewart Avenues with blankets and lawn chairs in hand, making their way to the Village Green to listen to another Gazebo concert. Last year the Chamber of Commerce's Project Garden City committee was inspired to bring the two worlds together with lunch break concerts held once a week on Franklin Avenue.
From this idea Fridays on Franklin were born, and each week the business people and residents of the Village mingled and enjoyed a free concert every Friday afternoon at The Plaza. This summer, to continue the spirit of bringing the many faces of Garden City together and making lunch breaks more fun for everyone, the Chamber decided to continue its free concerts. This summer, they decided to brighten the middle of the week up with Wonderful Wednesdays.
To add to the concept, the Chamber invited Dance Corner, located in the June Claire Dance Center at 449 Hempstead Avenue in West Hempstead, to demonstrate ballroom dancing and perhaps inspire some concert goers to get up and dance as well. Restaurants from around the Village set up stands where attendees can purchase lunch, beverages, and some dessert, and get a taste of the fine cuisine Garden City has to offer. Chamber of Commerce members are always on hand to meet and greet and run the ever popular raffles held during the concerts.
Wednesday, August 5 brought the New York Brass Choir to Franklin Avenue and the crowd was treated to a unique performance by a brass quintet as two students from Dance Corner waltzed on what serves as the dance floor each week at the Plaza. Residents turned out with lawn chairs or just claimed a spot on the wall along with employees from neighborhood businesses enjoying the music and comaraderie on Franklin Avenue. With two trumpets, a trombone, a french horn, and a tuba playing classical music, as well a few pop tunes, the concert transported the crowd to Avery Fisher Hall for a couple of hours. The members of the New York Brass Choir are all artists with the Musical Instrument Co. and are full-time professional performers, appearing in area symphonies, orchestras, Broadway pits, and various recordings.
As the audience was treated to a unique opportunity to hear instruments usually relegated to the background in orchestral groups playing together and in the spotlight, the dancers from Dance Corner handed out purple fliers advertising the school's ballroom and Latin dancing classes for juniors and adults. The fliers presented an opportunity for the audience to enroll in the classes and learn the very steps they had just watched the dancers doing. Just by calling the school at 489-8111 residents, Village employees, and merchants alike can participate in the show on Franklin every week. Of course, no one needs to be a professional dancer or a dancing school student to feel free to get up and show their own dance moves at Wonderful Wednesdays. Everyone is encouraged to take part in the fun.
Recent concerts have also included performances by Gloria Parker and her Riverboat Ramblers on July 29. Parker played the marimba and led her band in big band tunes, Latin American music, and jazz. Audience members recognized the unique style of Gloria Parker from her days on television with appearances on Letterman's shows as well as a featured role in the movie Broadway Danny Rose. Another popular concert favorite, Artie Miller's Jazz Combo returned to Garden City on Wednesday, August 12. Mark Barbatsuly, Project Garden City's music chairman commented, "Artie Miller's Jazz Combo was so well received by last year's Fridays on Franklin audience, we were happy to be able to bring them back for an encore performance for our Wonderful Wednesdays band concerts."
The concert series continues with Something Special Big Band on August 19, Afrodysia on August 26, and a surprise band for Sept. 2. For more information about this or to help the Chamber of Commerce with their many programs and projects to benefit the Garden City Community, call the Chamber Office at 746-7724.