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Free concerts draw plenty to Willows Park

In the midst of their many projects, the Community Initiatives Committee of Oak Bay decided this year to get some music into Willows Park, much to the delight of the community.

“We talked about more music in the park two or three times, and this year we decided to do it,” said Coun. John Herbert, who chairs the CIC.

Herbert, who also chaired the Centennial Committee for Oak Bay’s anniversary in 2006, said the CIC was an “outgrowth of the centennial committee.” Over 100 events were organized for the centennial celebration, including bringing the symphony to the park, which was a resounding success.

The CIC, a mixture of council members, local business owners, staff and community members, had been talking about putting more music in the park for several years, said Herbert, and this year the funding and the manpower fell into place.

“We thought, ‘well, let’s just get started.’”

Herbert said that while the support they received in putting the project together was substantial, it was Janet Barclay, manager of Oak Bay recreation program services, that pulled it all together.

“Janet Barclay was really the person who did all the bull work, and she should really be commended,” he said. “Staff is always helpful, and Janet in particular is wonderful.”

All the hard work paid off in dividends. Ray Herman, director of Oak Bay Parks and Recreation, was there to see the O’Briens perform the inaugural concert in July.

“It was a beautiful night. There were people of all ages, there were people dancing. Little kids, older folks, people who had brought a picnic down,” he said. “Willows Park in the summer is a very beautiful spot, and there was a desire to bring the community together, and it seems to have worked very well.”

Herman said a lot of people knew about the concert beforehand and made the trip out, while others were pleasantly surprised as they strolled through the park, and everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves.

“Judging from the reaction from the community, it was very positive,” he said.

August will see the Damian Graham Trio perform, and there’s a possibility of a third concert in September, depending on budget, weather and public response, said Herbert.

Willows Park will host the Damian Graham Trio for the second of the free concerts, Wednesday Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

 

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