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First Concert Scheduled for New Bandstand

The McLean Citizens Foundation on Sunday wrote the largest check in its 24-year history, made out to the Friends of Central Park for $35,000 to be used to construct a gazebo that will be used as a bandstand.

It is the largest contribution the MCF has made, said Board President Lilla Richards.

Construction of the foundation for the gazebo will begin in May, and the structure should be finished by late June. The first concert will be held at McLean Central Park on July 14, duly noted by park “visionary” Bob Alden as Bastille Day.

It has been more than 50 years since McLean resident Alden, now retired from his longtime position as a news editor for the Washington Post, first visualized the community center and “Central Park” in McLean.

He said the McLean Community Center will sponsor a series of Sunday afternoon concerts from 3 to 5 p.m. this summer.

“If you like going to Sunday afternoon concerts, you can have a double header,” Alden said, by attending both the McLean concert and the traditional summer Sunday evening concerts on the green at Village Centre. They are held from 6 to 8 p.m.

Alden said some of the “Rising Stars” concerts, held to feature new talent among younger musicians, might also be held at the gazebo, adding “an additional venue” to the Alden Theater.

The McLean Citizens Foundation also plans to contribute $15,000 toward the cost of a tot lot that will replace a defunct circular fountain in the park.

The $50,000 total is the largest grant to be presented since the foundation was organized 24 years ago, said McLean Citizens Foundation board member Bill Byrnes.

Bari Levingston, president of Friends of McLean Central Park, remembered that she was pregnant when she first began to work on raising money for the gazebo and tot lot.

Her son, Jake, now a toddler, was kept occupied by his father, Keith, during the ceremony in the park on a windy Sunday afternoon.

The tot lot which is planned for the park will be suited for children five years old, and younger, she said.

Fundraising for the park continues, and Richards presented Levingston with a personal check for $1,000 toward completion of the park features.

The Fairfax County Park Authority, represented at the ceremony by Dranesville District representative, Rick Thoesen, will maintain the gazebo and the park.

Elise Bengsten, president of the McLean Chamber of Commerce, and Dranesville District Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn also attended the Sunday ceremony.