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Music Brightens Vienna This Summer

Vienna Town Green comes alive with live music, picnics and neighbors.

The sun was setting, the sky blue, the air was dry and the breeze gentle. Even the gnats were off duty.

The launch of the Town Green concert series took place on the kind of evening that public relations reps dream about. The Mike Cotter Trio, performing easy-listening classic rock, did not disappoint the crowd making themselves comfortable on the lawn. People of all ages spread out blankets and chairs, munched on picnic fare, pushed strollers and followed dogs along the grassy expanse of the new Vienna Town Green.

"This is a nice family event," said Larry Tarr of Oakton, accompanied by his wife and daughter, 15-month-old Finley. "It’s a great place for kids to run around meeting people, and the weather is perfect. My daughter loves the music," said Tarr as he swayed to the beat himself.

Tarr’s wife, Noreen, agreed that the music was good, and that when the children are happy, they’re happy.

The Tarrs’ companions, Terri Balle, Larry Tarr’s sister, and her husband, Chris, of Vienna invited the Tarrs to the concert.

"We found out about the concert through the community center," said Terri Balle, juggling her 13-month-old son, Christopher. "We planned our big night out here," Balle said smiling.

NO ONE WAS MORE pleased with the heavy turnout, delightful weather and lively concert than Cathy Salgado, director, Vienna Parks and Recreation.

"Overall, people are very pleased with the Town Green," said Salgado, as she listened to the band. "The acoustics are fantastic; you can’t even hear traffic on Maple Avenue. People have commented how much they like coming here in the evening."

Salgado’s e-mail reflects the different perspectives of the community. Some express thanks for the bike racks, water fountains and dog faucets, and restrooms that echo the feel of the historic library next door. Others are simply grateful for a green space in which to rest and relax amid the hubbub of daytime activity.

Every day, Salgado receives several requests from entertainers wanting to play on the Green. Next year, new performers may have the opportunity to participate in an amateur-fest.

"We’re considering an up-and-coming artist series for next year," said Salgado. "Kind of like an exhibition talent show."

When the Friends of the Town Green program takes flight, the sky’s the limit, said Salgado. Town Council member, Edythe Kelleher, is working to make the dream a reality.

"We have an attorney doing pro-bono work to set up the Friends program as a non-profit," said Kelleher. "At this point, we’re recruiting volunteers to help during performances, and looking at new sponsors for additional programs as time goes on.

"OUR OBJECTIVE is to raise money through the Friends of the Town Green, independent of corporate sponsors. As an example, we could do our own printing of brochures; the Town of Vienna does that now. We would like to provide the entertainment without the costs burdening Vienna taxpayers."

Kelleher emphasized that the entertainment series benefits local businesses, as well. There are many Vienna restaurants where people can buy carryout food and bring it to the Town Green.

On Saturday, Vienna resident Doug Walls and three-year old daughter, Kiran, ate at the nearby Vienna Inn and wandered over to the flag-masted fountain afterward.

"I like it," said Walls. "If I gave Kiran the chance, she’d go running in the water.

"I drive by every day and I’ve seen the progress ... watched the leveling of the building that had been here, then the hole in the ground, and finally this. It’s even nicer than what I expected it to be."

THIS SEASON’S CONCERTS have their sponsors lined up, and Michele Dandrea, principal of the Michele Dandrea Group of certified financial planners, "jumped at the chance" to participate when she learned the Town was looking for sponsors.

"When we moved to Vienna four years ago, we were thrilled with all that the town offered for families and kids," said Dandrea, at the concert with husband Lindsay and son, Briant. "I think Vienna is so special and unique. People recognize this and want to foster it."

Vienna Mayor M. Jane Seeman celebrated her birthday at the concert, and surprising her, the band played "Happy Birthday."

"This is a passive park," said Seeman. "It’s enhanced our quality of life because it’s given people a focal point to meet friends, a place to go and relax ... just to sit and get away from the hustle-bustle of the world. It’s hard to believe but you don’t hear the traffic when you’re sitting there.

"The Town Green adds green space and quiet space. You can bring a laptop because it has wi-fi access or you can just sit quietly."

TO BECOME A PART of the Friends of the Town Green program, contact Cathy Salgado for information on sponsorship or volunteering with the Friends of the Town Green.

Salgado is planning on a fall meeting to orient volunteers, and is taking names and phone numbers now at 703-255-6356 or via e-mail at csalgado@viennava.gov.

"They did an excellent job with the Town Green, planning it years ago," said Chris Balle. "It’s great to see it come to fruition."