HOLDEN, Mass. — The Holden 250th Bandstand Committee celebrated 20 years of summer concerts Sunday, with the Mood Elevators raising spirits to start the new season of free music in the town center.
"We're very proud to have gone 20 years and to be able to maintain it," said Marilynn Foley, looking back at the countless events held at the bandstand, and all the friends made along the way.
Built as a permanent gift to the Town of Holden in honor of Holden's 250th Anniversary, the bandstand was constructed in 1992 with money left over from the anniversary events, according to Foley.
After two decades, the free summer concerts have become part of town tradition, with families often bringing their chairs and blankets to the Holden Senior Center lawn to enjoy a sunny picnic and listen to music.
Whether it's old favorites like Rick Barron and the Quavers, or artists who are new to the bandstand like Cool-Hand Blues, this season's schedule boasts a full range of talent.
In some cases, the committee has seen bands develop before their eyes.
For instance, Roy Fraser recalled how far the Wachusett Community Band has come since it first performed at the bandstand.
"I can remember when they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, and now they're probably one of the best community bands in Central Mass," he said.
While the summer concerts are what the bandstand is best known for, other events have also been hosted inside the scenic little structure over the years — including weddings, dance performances, and even a high school performance of “The King and I.”
"One of my biggest joys was watching the King waltzing Anna across the bandstand," said Fraser. "It was like we had hit the big time. We had accomplished something."
Since its inception, the bandstand has been a result of the community coming together, from some of the work that was originally donated to build the facility, to the local sponsors that support each concert, to the families that gather on the green each Sunday.
The bandstand committee is also made up of a group of volunteers, who work each year to organize each concert series.
Though committee membership has dwindled over the years, Foley has been part of the bandstand since the beginning, and still enjoys seeing each concert.
The committee is currently looking for new members, and residents interested in volunteering a small amount of their time to help the carry on the tradition can visit the town website to download a do-something questionnaire.
Concerts are held Sundays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the bandstand. In case of rain, concerts are held in the senior center.
Next up in the concert series is the Wachusett Community Band, who will play a variety of popular and orchestral selections on July 15.