There were big doings in the little village known as “Livable, Lovable Lodi” this past weekend. The city celebrated its 100th birthday and there were lots of activities commemorating that milestone.
I participated in three of them: The Lodi Community Band performed at the kick-off ceremony at the historic Lodi Train Depot on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Among the speakers were Mayor Susan Hitchcock and County Supervisor Jack Sieglock. There were also performances by barbershop quartet “Centennial” and “Tapestry,” a popular local trio.
On Sunday afternoon, First United Methodist Church hosted a community-wide centennial
The Lodi Community Band also presented its annual summer concert on Sunday afternoon at 6:00 p.m. As always, the concert was free to the public and held at Hutchins Street Square. Folks bring lawn chairs, a picnic, the dog, bubbles to blow, a Frisbee, etc. and hang out on the lawn while the band plays. It is really a throwback to a kinder, gentler time in America’s history when people in small towns would go down to the park and listen to a local band play in a gazebo. As in those days, we frequently play classic marches by composers like John Philip Sousa, along with more modern selections, as an homage to those days gone by. As I sat there looking out at the crowd from the Omega Nu Stage, I wondered how many other towns across America still have community bands, much less Sunday afternoon concerts in the park. I would hazard a guess that not many do — at least not here in California.
We were joined this year by the 91st Division Band, U.S. Army Reserves, from Dublin, California. With them they brought several bagpipers and we played some classic tunes. Crowds just love those bagpipers. One of their numbers was a medley of the songs representing the various branches of the U.S. military. Their announcer asked current and former members of the various branches to stand as the respective numbers were played. It was very touching to see some of the older members of the audience, including one gentleman using a walker who was utterly determined to stand on his own, proudly rise and salute.
The grand finale was, of course, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” complete with piccolo solo by a member of the 91st. The crowd cheered!
So here’s wishing a Happy Birthday to, as the late Paul Zimmerman used to call it when he wrote for the Lodi News-Sentinel as I was growing up here, “the little village of Lodi.” It is not so little any more and it bears little resemblance in so many ways to the quaint little town in which I grew up, but it is still — and I suspect always will be — Lodi, a unique, but very American, town. Most days, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be “stuck.”