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A message from Make Music Downey
Massive volunteer effort made inaugural music festival a success, organizers say.
WRITTEN BY :   Carl Kearns and Bea Romano, Contributors

DOWNEY – We were deeply gratified to hear that so many people thoroughly enjoyed the Make Music Downey celebration on Saturday, June 8. More than 60 free performances were spread among six venues in the downtown area, and the public response was everything we could have hoped for.

This was a completely volunteer effort – no one got paid. Everyone we approached seemed to be inspired by the idea of a one-day music festival and wanted to be part of it. The First Presbyterian church let us use their grounds and facilities, the First Baptist Church of Downey loaned us their stages, OLPH school loaned us their canopies, and OLPH parish and St. George’s Greek Church let us use their parking. Mayor Guerra issued a Certificate of Appreciation, and the Downey Patriot featured the schedule on its front page.

But even with all of this support, this great event would not have happened without the incredible effort by so many behind-the-scenes volunteers. The work was physical, and the day was very long. I think your readers would appreciate knowing who made this happen and how they did it. This was unpaid labor dedicated to the community of Downey.

We would like to thank Rick Huff, building manager of the 1st Presbyterian Church, who had the building open for us at 7 AM three days in a row so we could store equipment; and he helped with all of the heavy lifting too. He worked 13 hours on Saturday to keep things running smoothly, and in between he stopped to perform with his band, Given.

Helping Rick with the grunt work on more than one day was Don Lamkin, Jim Romano, Guadalupe Gil, Andrew Wahlquist, Jerry Dominqu, and Frank Kearns. Most of these men arrived at 7 a.m. on Saturday (along with Flavio Beas and Enselmo) to start erecting the stages and canopies, and then stayed until everything was loaded up at 8 p.m. These guys were real heros.

Also arriving at 7 a.m. for a 13-hour day at the Main Stage were the indispensable soundmen (who brought their own equipment) – Frank Goeckner, John Buckley, Oscar Morales, JJ Mapson, and Nick Smith (who also switched hats to play a set with his band, All About Me). The MC duties at the Main Stage were shared by two very talented actress/producers for the seven hours – Lana Wahlquist and Sylvia Blush.

Sound people at the smaller venues included Russ Lewark, Raul Blackstein, Mike San Juan, Josue Quiquivix, Steve Humenski, Troy Walls, and Mario from the Epic Lounge. All but one of the venues had to be staffed for the full seven hours.

Pat Gil from the Downey Arts Coalition gave twelve hours on Saturday to supervise the donations and art raffles at each of the six venues. DAC members who staffed the venues included Aimee Calligari, Esmerelda Castaneda, Bill Blush, Don Marshall, Helen Danielson, George Manzanilla and Eloisa “EJ” Ball.

Other volunteers included Terry Walker, Denice Paxton, Denise Tanaka, Julian Park, Adam Luisi, and Polaris Castillo. Marianne Huff from the Downey Federal Credit Union drove in from the Valley to help at the Main Stage.

The six artists who turned children’s guitars into works of art for the fundraising raffle were Don Lamkin, Jorge Del Toro, Mike Ferguson, Laura Sanchez, Polaris Castillo, and Suzy Art Eaga.
Thank you also to Valentin Flores and Gabriel Enamorado of Stay Gallery who stayed all day to see that things went smoothly in this beautiful venue.

A clean-up crew is always the hardest to organize, even for the best of events, and we were a little worried since some people had other commitments in the evening. A core group of the men who had already been there all day were able to stay until the last piece of stage and canopy were loaded onto a truck. But this seemed harsh labor for a dwindling crew.

Additional help came from people who were there for the last act. And one young man typified the spirit of the whole day. He is Ben Lee, an electrical engineer who gave up his job nearly two years ago to travel by bike and see the world. On his website he explains that his motto lately has been, “Love people, cook them delicious food and fix their bikes. The world reflects love back.” Ben didn’t ride away until all of the equipment was packed up and ready to go.

That seemed to be the spirit of the day among all of the volunteers. By their efforts to help us enjoy and celebrate our common bond of music, the volunteers were sharing love. Thank you to everyone who made this wonderful event happen – the performers, the audiences, and the behind-the-scenes volunteers.

Carol Kearns and Bea Romano are Downey residents and coordinated Make Music Downey.

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Published: June 13, 2013 – Volume 12 – Issue 09



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