Nature upstages with electric performanceMother Nature upstaged the Whitesidewalls concert Saturday in Lucius Woods Park. A sudden lightning storm sent music lovers packing out of the park about 15 minutes early, according to Pat Pluntz, executive director of the Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Mother Nature upstaged the Whitesidewalls concert Saturday in Lucius Woods Park. A sudden lightning storm sent music lovers packing out of the park about 15 minutes early, according to Pat Pluntz, executive director of the Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center. A lightning strike to a tree near the park utility shed knocked out power, leaving volunteers cleaning up chairs and tents by the glow of iPods and car headlights.
“It was very exciting,” said Gitzy Wicklund, who was supervising nine student volunteers at the event. “People will talk about it forever.”
She said there were at least three lightning strikes directly in the park — one of which shattered the tree near the utility shed — along with torrential rain. Crowd members ran for the exit. Although they were rushing to get out of the weather, Wicklund said, everyone was polite and kind, careful not to knock others down.
“It was pretty impressive, the way everybody was watching out for everybody,” she said. And the volunteers teamed up to put away chairs and tents and gather up unclaimed auction items.
“For as nuts as it was, it couldn’t have gone smoother,” Wicklund said.
One of the band members, David “Swanee” Swanson, was jolted by electricity while unplugging equipment after the power went out.
“It knocked him down,” and zapped his energy, Pluntz said, leaving him fatigued but uninjured.
Bad weather has been an issue during this summer’s Music in the Park concert series.
“We’ve had rain; we’ve had hot, hot, hot weather,” Pluntz said. “And the week after it was extremely hot it was cold.
Despite the challenging weather, they haven’t canceled a show all summer.
“We have such good customers,” Pluntz said. They bring their rain gear if it’s cloudy and share camaraderie with the others sitting under their umbrellas. The concert series has been bringing music lovers to Solon Springs for 18 years. Pluntz chalks up its success to the efforts of community volunteers and a lot of loyal fans.
About 1,600 people attended the Whitesidewalls show, the fourth in this summer’s concert series. The performance by the ’50s and ’60s rock and roll band was great, Pluntz said, and the evening’s silent auction was a success. The National Bank of Commerce even handed out free can coolers to audience members. Then the storm came out of nowhere.
“In general, it was a great night,” Pluntz said, but “a little too exciting.”
Monday, her office was filled with drying bid sheets and silent auction items that were not picked up before the storm broke. Winners who didn’t collect their items before the storm can contact Pluntz at (715) 378-4272 to arrange a time to pick them up.