Tonight we go to the Park. Edina’s JOHN PHILIP SOUSA MEMORIAL BAND will play in a park in Golden Valley. Molly and I are going – for old times’ sake. For Independence Day. An American tradition. Even – an Edina tradition.
The first John Philip Sousa Band gathered and founded long ago, in the late 1960’s, in Edina by Scott Crosbie. One of their earliest concerts was at the Colonial Church of Edina, when it was on Wooddale Avenue at one of the first “Summer Thing” concerts on the lawn in front of the church. Each July we had outdoor music between the church and Wooddale Avenue just at sunset time. And usually, the first concert of that wonderful summer season was a pick-up Edina band called the Scott Crosbie John Philips Sousa Memorial Band.
A couple of hundred people had gathered on the lawn with blankets, lawn chairs, with coffee and punch being served. Scott Crosbie was an Edina boy who loved good band music. There were many good band people in Edina. Music teachers. School musicians, graduates of college bands. Scott Crosbie recruited them. They became a tradition in our town. And they made that early July Sunday evening one of their first venues.
We were gathered before the band arrived. And then, suddenly we heard it -the brass band playing, up the street, probably outside the Edina Country Club. They became a marching band. The faint sound grew louder and louder. It was wonderful! “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Sousa marches. Down the street they came, making beautiful music. Standing applause as they found their places on the front lawn. Scott Crosbie leading them. What an evening it was.
They played at Wooddale. They later played at Colonial Way. The same march to the neighborhood, and the congregation that gathered at the Colonial Way parking lot.
We felt the band was sort of ours. A community tradition we shared with those eager young men and women. Ralphie Campbell was in the band and a few others from our congregation. So much fun. And, what a way, in early July, to celebrate Independence Day.
It’s been years since I’ve heard them. I wonder if Scott Crosbie still leads. Or, if others, like Ralphie Campbell still play?
I’ll find out tonight, as the band comes to a park in Golden Valley. Twenty folks from “Covenant Living” will be taken to the park to enjoy the ambiance of the summer evening, and the thrill of John Philip Sousa’s traditional American band music. I’ll be looking for Scott and Ralph, wondering if they’ll be there.
Of course, it is now decades later. Probably 30 years. It’ll be the last hurrah for Independence Day for this year.
Molly and I will sit on our borrowed lawn chairs and enjoy every minute of it.
Tradition. A wonderful American tradition. Indeed, an Edina, Minnesota and Golden Valley tradition. To help us remember our country – this wonderful land that’s been so good to us. A time to think about our best traditions. Of faith. And, founding, and patriotism.
Thank God for these good ways to thank God for what He’s given us in our land, and our people. A time to be glad, and give thanks.
Let’s all say a prayer, of heartfelt thanks.
Your comrade, of this land we love,
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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