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Harborfest 2009 Reigns Over Port City

OSWEGO, NY – A little bit of rain was barely an inconvenience for the crowd at Thursday night’s opening of Harborfest 22.

The music started at 7 p.m. Thursday with Hotel California (a salute to the Eagles). And, after a short interruption for the official opening ceremonies, Live Wire (an AC/DC tribute band) kept Harborfest 2009 rocking and rolling.

Live Wire powered its way through several AC/DC classics.
Live Wire powered its way through several AC/DC classics.

Scattered showers, some heavy at times, plagued the Hotel California concert; but the crowd continued to grow in front of the NRG Lakeview Stage. The crowd was massive, sprawling all the way back to the sidewalk in Breitbeck Park.

For opening night, the lyrics to one of AC/DC’s songs sure rang true:

Don’t you give me no line
Better run if you can
Just like a thorn in the side
So don’t give me no

Don’t you give me no
Don’t you give me no
Don’t you give me no lies

You can’t stop rock n roll
You can’t stop rock n roll

And with that, the festival got off to an impressive start.

“This is just great,” said John Scardella, president of Harborfest’s board of directors. “This is a fantastic crowd for opening night – despite the rain. We’re off to a great start and things can only get better from here.”

Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman rings the bell marking the official opening of Harborfest 22.
Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman rings the bell marking the official opening of Harborfest 22.

Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman welcomed the enthusiastic crowd to Harborfest 22.

Harborfest, the largest family celebration in the Northeast, showcases Oswego’s greatest attributes – its history, its warmth and its people, the mayor said.

That is especially true this year as the festival’s cultural theme is “Historic Oswego.” The theme will be highlighted during Friday’s Children’s Parade.

Joining the mayor on stage were Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann, Assemblyman Will Barclay, Sen. Darrel Aubertine and Scardella. They thanked the Harborfest staff and the hundreds of volunteers that make the event possible. They wished everyone “a great and safe Harborfest.”

“Every year, there are four magic words that start each and every Harborfest,” Bateman reminded the crowd.

Hotel California got Harborfest 22 off to a peaceful, easy start.
Hotel California got Harborfest 22 off to a peaceful, easy start.

Then, as in years past, he counted down from five to one and the crowd roared, “Let the fun begin!” And, to accent Oswego bountiful maritime heritage, Bateman rang a ship’s bell to officially declare Harborfest 22 open.

Adele DelSavio of Baldwinsville has been coming to Harborfest for years.

She enjoys the entertainment, but noted she’d like to see more local acts like (the former) Doctor Boogie, The Swivel Rockers and The Critics.

Ron Richards, winner of the 2009 Harborfest song contest, performs his original composition, A Hoot And A Holler during the opening ceremonies.
Ron Richards, winner of the 2009 Harborfest song contest, performs his original composition, A Hoot And A Holler during the opening ceremonies.

For Dana Hollister of Oswego the best thing about Harborfest “is the classic bands they have on Thursday and Friday nights.”

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “That and the fireworks, of course.”

“It’s the fireworks, definitely,” said John DeRousie of Scriba. “But after the fireworks, the music. There is enough music during Harborfest, so no matter what you like, there is something for everyone.”

Grace Backus and her brother, Andrew, enjoyed the “Eagles” concert.

“I like Hotel California, the song and the group,” she said. They have good music at Harborfest. And the fireworks are always great, too!”

There might be some more pesky scattered showers Friday, according to Bill Gregway, local observer for the National Weather Service.

Grace Backus dances to the sounds of Hotel California.
Grace Backus dances to the sounds of Hotel California.

“But Saturday is looking real nice,” he said. “We ought to be warm and dry for the fireworks.”

Recently, the weather pattern has been the showers seem to separate over the Oswego-Fulton area. The rain has been falling north and south of us.

“Seems like it’s been that way all month. Now when we want the showers to skip over us, they don’t,” Gregway lamented. “But, they say things are improving for the rest of the weekend.

Talented guitarist / vocalist Ron Richards, winner of the 2009 Harborfest song contest, performed his original composition, A Hoot And A Holler during the opening ceremonies.

It will also be incorporated into the soundtrack for Saturday’s fireworks spectacular.

A veteran of the Oswego County music scene, Richards also won the song competition in 2000.

Basia Griffin has the best seat in the house for Harborfest's opening ceremonies, sitting atop Bob Lighthall's shoulders. Basia came all the way from California to visit Oswego in time for Harborfest.
Basia Griffin has the best seat in the house for Harborfest's opening ceremonies, sitting atop Bob Lighthall's shoulders. Basia came all the way from California to visit Oswego in time for Harborfest.

Harborfest’s music continues today (July 24) with Micky Dolenz, lead singer of the Monkees, on the Lakeview Stage at 9:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day, you can check out Shovelhead (12:30 – 1:30 p.m.) and The Holy Goats (3:30 – 4:3 p.m.) among others the Lakeview Stage.

There’s plenty more music on the other stages as well.

The children’s musical, “Tom Sawyer,” will be performed at the Family Stage in Fort Ontario Park at various times during Harborfest including at noon and 6 p.m. today.

Peterson & Dennihy will perform at 1 p.m. on the River Walk Stage. The Kirsten Thien Band will play there at 7 p.m.

Youngsters will want to check out all the performances and activities at the Fort Ontario Children’s Stage today and all during Harborfest.

The annual children’s parade steps off today at 11 a.m. from East Park. The route ends at the home of the Children’s Stage at historic Fort Ontario.

Pre-parade activities get under way at 10 a.m.

For more information, visit www.oswegoharborfest.com