CAROL STREAM – On a warm summer evening, a crowd of Carol Stream residents gathered near the Ross Ferraro Town Center Gazebo Stage to hear the first of many concerts this summer, as the village kicked off its annual Summer Concert Series.
The first concert of the season June 5 by dance band Ear Candy was attended by guests of all ages – from the adults who sat in their chairs and listened appreciatively to the array of hits to the children who created their own dance section right in front of the stage.
2014 marks the 17th year of the series, which tends to be popular among village residents, said Chris Oakley, assistant to the village manager and coordinator of the series.
"If the weather's there, people are there," Oakley said.
Carol Stream residents Jim and Kathy Lopez have attended the Summer Concert Series regularly for about four years.
"It's our date night for the week," Kathy Lopez said.
The concerts provide an opportunity to get out of the house and listen to new bands, Jim said.
The lineup for this summer's Concert Series seems to feature a lot of bands the couple hasn't seen before, including Ear Candy, and Jim said he liked what he was hearing during the June 5 show.
"We like to take advantage of what our town is giving us," Kathy said.
Ben and Sally Curran of Carol Stream and their two young children try to come to one of the village's concerts each summer.
"It's easy to do with kids and have a good time," Sally Curran said.
Owen Curran, 4, said his favorite part of the events is the custard sold each week by Culver's.
The family hopes to attend another concert this summer, especially after the long and terrible winter seen by the area, Ben said.
The second concert of the summer took place Thursday and featured One of These Days, a tribute to the Eagles.
In addition to music and Culver's custard, each show includes a dinner food vendor so that guests can enjoy a picnic during the performance. Vendors begin serving at 6 p.m.
New this year is an alcohol concession sponsored by the Rotary Club of Carol Stream. Proceeds benefit local charities.
The concession was added based on feedback from attendees who asked why the village didn't offer alcohol at the concerts.
"It's just been a steady need expressed over the years," Oakley said.
Concerts also feature raffle prizes that include coupons and gift certificates from the participating vendors.
All vendors are Carol Stream businesses, except the food trucks that will serve guests at the July 4 concert.
"We wanted to rally around our businesses," Oakley said.
In addition to providing a way to highlight local businesses, the Summer Concert Series also brings together Carol Stream residents who may have never met otherwise, he said.
Towns have a long history of providing a gathering place for the arts, from the time of the ancient Greeks to Shakespeare, and Oakley said Carol Stream has the same belief that the arts are good for a community.
"Year in and year out, people seem to validate that this is the right thing to do," he said.
If you go
What: Carol Stream Summer Concert Series
When: 7 p.m. most Thursdays through Aug. 14
Where: Ross Ferraro Town Center Gazebo Stage, near Gary Avenue and Lies Road
Cost: Free admission
• 7 p.m. June 19: Tumbling Dice (Rolling Stones tribute) • 7 p.m. July 4: Mellencougar (Mellencamp tribute) • 7 p.m. July 10: R-Gang (Motown/soul/R&B) • 7 p.m. July 17: 7th Heaven (Concert for the Troops) • 7 p.m. July 24: The Hat Guys (classic rock) • 7 p.m. July 31: Without U2 (U2 tribute) • 7 p.m. Aug. 7: 5 Guys Named Moe (contemporary rock) • 7 p.m. Aug. 14: The Boat Drunks (Jimmy Buffett tribute)