Since Tropical Storm Lee hit the region with flooding rains in September, plenty of fundraisers — large and small — have been held to help those affected get back on their feet.
But local musician and businessman Scott Freeman felt that something was missing.
"We all know how badly this community has been devastated by the flood, and the community has come up so wonderfully to try to support those affected and different organizations — you figure a million dollars has been raised just from that," Freeman said in an interview last week. "You had a lot of the taverns and bars and neighborhoods do fundraisers, too. But nobody stepped forward to do the big one."
So, he decided to use his experience organizing the Binghamton Jazz Festival for the past couple of years to put together Flood the Tier with the Sound of Music, set for Sunday afternoon at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.
The event will feature not only music, but also a variety of entertainment such as dancers, jugglers, clowns, the Binghamton Zoo's Zoomobile, the Magic Paintbrush Project, holiday craft vendors, even a visit from Santa Claus himself. In addition, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Broome County Mental Health Association, the Broome County Council of Churches and other support agencies will be on hand to offer information and assistance to those who have been hurt by the flooding.
Proceeds for the all-ages event — sponsored by Merrill Lynch, Wendy's and Southern Tier Harley Davidson — will go to the Council of Churches and its Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse food pantry. CHOW will collect nonperishable food items as well.
Freeman hopes the funds raised through the $10-per-person admission charge will help those who have fallen through the cracks. (Those whose lives have been affected by the flood can get in for free; call the council at 724-9130 for more information.)
"The churches are in all those neighborhoods, and they've really been on the forefront of all the recovery, mucking out basements and tearing out the damaged goods, because they know who the people are in those communities," he said. "One of the nice things about the Council of Churches is that it's not a large bureaucracy, so they can verify somebody in need and get money to that individual or family in a day or two."
The day's music lineup will include local favorites such as Zarni de Wet, Jared Campbell, Randy McStine's Lo-Fi Resistance project and Eric Ross, with headliner Shawn Gallaway.
"Shawn is flying in from Nashville on his own expense just to help out the community," Freeman said. "This guy plays all over the world. He's like a Harry Chapin or a James Taylor as a singer/songwriter, and he talks about positive energy and healing and getting through difficult phases of life."
In the weeks leading up to Flood the Tier, community support has been overwhelming, Freeman said: "I'm still getting five phone calls a day of people wanting to volunteer and help out for the event. I've never experienced this before."
While he clearly hopes that lots of folks turn out Sunday to give their neighbors a much-needed hand up, Freeman also sees the celebration in a larger context.
"It's not just about raising money — it's the big event where we can get 10,000 or 15,000 or 20,000 people together over the course of the afternoon into the Arena, all about music and crafts and food and information and some healing and maybe some spiritual health. Across the board, we'll have it all there," he said.
Main stage music
» Noon-12:45 p.m.: The Cheating Intention
» 12:45-1:15 p.m.: Zarni de Wet
» 1:15-1:30 p.m.: Broome County Pipe & Drum Band
» 1:45-2:30 p.m.: Shawn Gallaway
» 2:30-2:45 p.m.: GleePAC
» 2:45-3:30 p.m.: Scott Freeman Band & the Revival Horns
» 3:45-4:30 p.m.: Eric Ross
» 4:30-4:45 p.m.: Binghamton High School Steel Drum Band
» 4:45-5:25 p.m.: Lo-Fi Resistance
» 5:30-6 p.m.: Jared Campbell