Wednesday, May 9, 2012

West Side Neighborhood Project to hold music fest

BINGHAMTON -- Last year, it was a community block party.

This year, the West Side Neighborhood Project will hold a music festival as a way to unite the city's West Side residents, organizers said.

The free event will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. May 12 on the grounds of Horace Mann Elementary School, 30 College St. Music will range from local bands to a renowned cellist, said Maggie Laskoski-George, a member of WSNP and a West Side resident.

Activities aren't just confined to school grounds. Participants can walk from Horace Mann to Café West 46 on Seminary Avenue, where a pig roast will be held from noon to 6 p.m. On the walk, local musicians will be playing on porches between the school and the restaurant.

"We want to bring all residents of the West Side together -- residents, Binghamton University students, children, all the families of Horace Mann -- to promote a safe and vibrant West Side," Laskoski-George said. "And we welcome people from everywhere."

WSNP is all about making the West Side better, said one of its founders, Alycia Harris. The music festival came about while sitting in Laskoski-George's home about six weeks ago. Planners have been meeting every Monday since then to organize the festival.

Harris called the music festival a game changer for the West Side, bringing in not just residents and students, but others who don't live there. The hope is that they'll share and invest their time, services and products on the West Side.

"The music event is a champion event that will create vision, promote economic development and ultimately seed transformation," Harris said.Besides local bands, former Binghamton resident Jeff McAuley, a cellist who has lived, taught and made music in Istanbul, Turkey, will perform. There will also be Irish dancers, games, arts and crafts and the Zoomobile.

The Horace Mann Booster Club will serve food and drinks and collect cans and bottles to raise money for the school. You can also bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

Parking is available at Recreation Park, Seton Catholic Central High School, and on the streets of the West Side. There will be an opportunity to sign up for a Neighborhood Watch program. Local businesses and agencies will also be on-hand.

"We are really trying to obviously appeal to all ages," Laskoski-George said.

Written by    Nancy Dooling

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