By Joel Hall
The City of Riverdale will kick off its first-ever Summer Concert Series today. The first of three concerts scheduled in the series will take place at 6 p.m., on the grounds of Riverdale City Hall.
Ushering in the series will be soprano saxophonist, Antonio Allen, formerly of the jazz-and-rhythm-and-blues ensemble, "Five Men on a Stool." Opening for Allen will be the "Tuff Enuff Band," a rhythm-and-blues group composed of immediate family members, and based in Fort Valley, Ga.
The concert will be free and open to the public. Lonnie Ballard, assistant city manager, who oversees community, cultural affairs, and leisure services for the city, said he hopes the series will help Riverdale meet a growing demand for more cultural activities.
"With the onset of the Town Center, we're going to have the new amphitheater as an amenity," Ballard said. "One of the things that we have to have are musical offerings. We want to have different musicians and performers to spur tourism. We are preparing for that."
While the performers for the next two concerts in the series have yet to be finalized, the dates for them have been set for July 11 and August 13, according to Ballard. He said that on July 11, the city also will celebrate its 101st anniversary.
"The music is the draw, but it provides a chance for the city to communicate with the residents, and for residents to communicate with each other," Ballard said. "That creates community."
Alongside the concert series, the city will continue its "Movie on the Lawn" series. Throughout the summer, it will host outdoor viewings of family-friendly movies on the grounds of Riverdale Middle School, located at 400 Roberts Drive, next door to the Riverdale Wal-Mart.
The next movie to be featured, "Hotel for Dogs," will be shown this Saturday, June 13 at dusk (around 8:30 p.m.). "Kung Fu Panda" will be next in line on Saturday, July 11, at the same time.
Families will be able to bring along blankets, lawn chairs, and picnic baskets.
Ballard said this is the fifth year the city has hosted "Movies on the Lawn." He said that prior to 2005, the city had lacked outdoor activities and that the movie series was "a step in the right direction. At that point in time, we weren't doing a lot of community activities at all," he said. "With the economy, residents and families are looking for ways to save. This was a pretty easy way to provide citizens with something recreational to do."
Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon said the concert and movie series are part of a vision to bring more "cultural and family activities" to the city. "It's so nice to have something to do," she said. "We don't want to just be a bedroom community where everybody has tunnel vision. We deserve to have an array of services. This is not just for the city. We want to get the county to come out."
For more information, call (770) 909-5385.