OSWEGO, NY â€“ Nearly idyllic weather greeted the large crowd at Thursday night’s opening of Harborfest 23.
The music started at 7 p.m. with Hollywood Nights (a tribute to Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band).
Many in the crowd were on their feet dancing and singing along to Seger classics like â€œOld Time Rock and Roll,â€ â€œNight Movesâ€ and, of course â€œHollywood Nights.â€
And, after a short interruption for the official opening ceremonies, The Little River Band kept Harborfest 2010 rocking and rolling.
The Australian rock band performed many of its greatest hits including â€œLonesome Loser,â€ â€œCool Changeâ€ and â€œReminiscing.â€
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.
“This is just great,” said John Scardella, president of Harborfest’s board of directors. “This is a fantastic crowd for opening night. We’re off to a great start and things can only get better from here.”
Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman welcomed the enthusiastic crowd to the 23rd edition of Harborfest.
Harborfest, the largest family celebration in the Northeast, showcases Oswego’s greatest attributes â€“ its history, its warmth and its people, the mayor said.
The festival’s cultural theme this year is “France.” The theme will be highlighted during Friday’s Children’s Parade.
Joining the mayor on stage were Assemblyman Will Barclay, Sen. Darrel Aubertine, Harborfest executive director Tom Van Schaack 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.”
Scardella said if people enjoyed the fest, they could become a â€œFriend of the Festival,â€ by seeking out one of the many volunteers and making a donation (in any amount) to Harborfest.
That will help ensure that the fest stays free for years to come, he explained.
Van Schaack also recognized the Oswego school students who helped create this yearâ€™s logo, as seen on the cover of the Harborfest program.
“Every year, there are four magic words that start each and every Harborfest,” Bateman reminded the crowd.
Then, as in years past, he counted down from five to one and the crowd roared, â€œLet the fun begin!â€
â€œI really like all the music and food at Harborfest,â€ said Tia Bullard. â€œThe fried dough is really good, and so is the fresh lemonade.â€
Her friend Danielle Mannise agreed.
â€œThe fried dough always tastes best at Harborfest,â€ she said. â€œI like mine with plenty of powdered sugar.â€
Two-year-old Owen Baldwin had the best seat in the house for the Hollywood Nights concert â€“ seated on his grandfatherâ€™s (George Baldwin) shoulders.
â€œThis is his first rock concert,â€ George said. â€œWe are both Seger fans, absolutely.â€
Owen is really interested in music and is learning to play the drums, he added.
â€œHeâ€™s really enjoying the concert. He wants to get right up on the stage and see what they are doing,â€ he said.
Frank Clavelli Jr. was enjoying the music as well.
â€œI like Little River Band and the Seger tribute band was real good, too,â€ he said. â€œThis is great. Harborfest is like a class reunion for me. I get to see a lot of my old friends.â€
There might be some more pesky scattered showers Friday, according to Bill Gregway, local observer for the National Weather Service.
“But Saturday is looking pretty nice,” he said. “We ought to be warm and dry for the fireworks.”
The winner of the 2010 Harborfest song contest, Mike Place and his band of Oswego All-Stars performed the original composition during the opening ceremonies.
It will also be incorporated into the soundtrack for Saturday’s fireworks spectacular.
Harborfestâ€™s music continues today (July 23) with Kansas on the Lakeview Stage at 9:30 p.m.
Earlier in the day, you can check out Thunderfoot at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage.
There’s plenty more music on the other stages as well.
Dam Dog performs at 1:30 p.m. on the Labatt Blue Jazz and Blues Stage in East Park. They are followed by the Mike Roberts Band at 3:30 p.m. and Los Blancos at 5:30 p.m.
The children’s musical, â€œThe Three Musketeers,â€ will be performed at the Family Stage in Fort Ontario Park at various times during Harborfest including at noon, 3:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Friday.
Youngsters will want to check out all the other performances and activities at the Fort Ontario Children’s Stage today and all during Harborfest.
The annual childrenâ€™s parade steps off today (July 23) at 11 a.m. from East Park. The route ends at the home of the Childrenâ€™s Stage at historic Fort Ontario.
Pre-parade activities get under way at 10 a.m.
For more information, visit www.oswegoharborfest.com