Maybe it was the cool jazz that made the muggy air just a little easier to bear.
Thousands of holiday celebrators gathered late Sunday afternoon with coolers and lawn chairs at Union Station and the grounds of the National War I Museum to enjoy the music and remember those who had fallen in service to the nation.
With the possibility of rain passing with the clouds, few complained about the steamy temperatures, and most looked forward to an evening of fireworks, sing-along patriotic standards and light classics from the Kansas City Symphony.
Dorothy Chamblin first came to the show two years ago and this time came early with her group to get a curbside seat not far from the stage.
“The music is always amazing, and the fireworks are incomparable,” Chamblin said.
Linda Zink of Overland Park brought her grandkids to an “instrument petting zoo” operated by symphony volunteers, where one of the youngsters tried out brass instruments, while the other stuck to the woodwinds. Elsewhere, volunteers gingerly handed violins, oboes, bassoons and flutes to any eager hand that would take them, and then discreetly sprayed disinfectant on the mouthpieces when they got the instruments back.
Other symphony volunteers poured birdseed into plastic Easter eggs to create makeshift maracas.
Zink said her granddaughter soon would begin violin lessons, but might change her mind now that she’s tried the wind instruments.
“I think this is awesome,” Zink said.
Next door, Brandon Draper led a dozen or so children in a mesmerizing drum circle that had the vague feel of an educational exercise, except the kids seemed to be having a great time just pounding the instruments.
During a break, Draper acknowledged that his company, Drum Safari, operates educational programs, using drums to teach lessons in geography, languages and culture. But, like everyone else at the celebration, he was quick to stress the fun.
“It’s always 100 percent hands-on,” Draper said.
The cacophony was sweet music to the ears of Steve Freeman, a 10-year Navy vet from the Vietnam era. He was there to celebrate veterans and enjoy the sense of community.
Pointing to the stage, where the Vine Street Rumble churned out big-band favorites in the Kansas City style and young people danced nearby, Freeman said the day could not have been better.
“I just love seeing the kids dancing to swing,” Freeman said. “I was raised on that. It’s great seeing the younger generation out supporting that.”
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