NEWS

Jazz storms through Orion

Mindy Carls
After a severe storm blew through Orion about 6 a.m. on Monday, July 21, leaving the entire village without power and many residents with downed limbs and trees, Main Street Orion decided to go ahead with Jazz in the Park in the evening. The Village of Orion’s parks superintendent, Arnie Sandberg, set up a generator to provide power for the band shell, the sound system and the picnic shelter. Bill Westerlund helped Sandberg get the park ready. Although the lack of power forced Orion IGA to close its doors to the public on Monday (and Tuesday), the store’s employees ensured food was available in the park.

“An oasis of light and sound in a sea of darkness,” emcee Jim Victor labeled Central Park on Monday night, July 21.

A thunderstorm with wind speeds over 90 miles an hour roared through Orion about 6 a.m. Monday, leaving the village without power on the day of one of the biggest events in the year.

Would Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band and the Orion Community Band be able to perform during Jazz in the Park?

Main Street Orion and the Village of Orion managed to put on the concert.

The village’s park superintendent, Arnie Sandberg, set up a generator to supply power for lights in the band shell and the picnic shelter, and to power everything needed to serve hot meals and ice cream.

“It’s the only power in town,” Victor said.

Sandberg and Bill Westerlund set up the park for the concert.

Without power, Orion IGA was closed on Monday and Tuesday, July 22, but the store’s employees supplied food for the jazz lovers.

Much to the relief of Allred’s fans, some of whom came from as far away as La Crosse, Wis., and Olathe, Kan., the concert was on.

Just as the music began at 7 p.m., a dark blue storm cloud appeared north of Orion.

“There’s a big storm over there,” Victor told the crowd. “If you all want to turn around and blow toward Davenport …”

A little rain fell, enough to cause spectators to bring out umbrellas, but not enough to threaten the concert.

Taking the microphone between songs, Allred said, “We decided we were going to report to work. We’re awfully sorry about the storm and the damage.”

Throughout the evening, more and more people came to the park, especially after the natural light faded and they could not continue cleaning up debris on their property. Live jazz replaced the TVs, radios and video games that normally would have entertained them after dark.

Jazz in the Park is a homecoming for Allred, and this year for his son, John. The Allreds lived in Orion until 1971, when Walt Disney World hired Bill as one of its first staff musicians in Orlando, Fla. C.R. Hanna Elementary School provided the first six years of John’s education.

“As soon as he started playing trombone, the girls came up to the door,” Bill Allred said.

After a severe storm blew through Orion about 6 a.m. on Monday, July 21, leaving the entire village without power and many residents with downed limbs and trees, Main Street Orion decided to go ahead with Jazz in the Park in the evening. The Village of Orion’s parks superintendent, Arnie Sandberg, set up a generator to provide power for the band shell, the sound system and the picnic shelter. Bill Westerlund helped Sandberg get the park ready. Although the lack of power forced Orion IGA to close its doors to the public on Monday (and Tuesday), the store’s employees ensured food was available in the park.