TORONTO — The free concerts held this summer by the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization were enjoyed by many, with organizers reporting a record turnout, but they also were music to the ears of several causes that benefited from collections taken up during intermissions.
“We drew the largest crowds and also the largest amount of donations in the last eight years,” said George Komar, the group’s president.
Komar said $2,654 donated by concert-goers during intermissions will be divided among the Toronto Kiwanis Club’s Coats for Kids campaign; Biasi-Shuma Memorial 5K Run-Walk, which raises funds for cancer patients; Toronto Schools Junior National Honor Society; Cub Scout Pack 41; the Helping Hands food pantry; Toronto Beautification Committee’s flag fund, which provides for U.S. flags flown above city streets; Toys for Toronto and Toronto Police’s Christmas with a Cop, each of which provides Christmas gifts for local children in need; and the coalition’s own community garden program.
Komar said the concerts wouldn’t have been possible if not for the support of 21 business sponsors.
They are: B&W Auto Repair, Catrell Cos. Inc., Clarke Funeral Home, Freshwater Cedar One Realty, J.E. Foster Funeral Home, Howard Hanna Real Estate, Iggy’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, L.A. Wargo Home Improvement, Main Street Bank, Margaret’s Cafe, Repairs Plus, Ridge Machine & Welding Co., State Farm Toni Moreland, TIMET, Toronto Apothecary, Toronto Beautification Committee, Toronto Kiwanis Club, US Bank, Valley Converting and White Glove Supply.
Komar said the concerts also were supported by a $1,664 grant from the Ohio Arts Council secured by Jon Greiner, adding the state agency has awarded a total of $6,954 for the concerts during the last five years.
Organizing the concerts has been a team effort for the pair, with Greiner booking the various acts and Komar soliciting local businesses and groups for sponsorships.
But Komar said there are others who have helped to make them a success, including city officials and crews who make the Gazebo Commons available and ready for the shows, and the Toronto Beautification Committee, a volunteer group that plants flowers there and decorates the gazebo.
He said members of Toronto First Presbyterian Church have allowed the concerts to be moved inside the building when it was raining and performers to dress there when needed.
Komar added Landon Grimes, Olivia Owens, Michelle Anderson and other members of the Toronto Schools National Junior Honor Society have assisted attendees with their chairs and in other ways, while members of Cub Scout Pack 41 have collected the donations while operating a small concession stand near the Gazebo Commons.
Komar said one of the Scouts, Lucas Ault, has been a regular, leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, announcing the sponsors and sharing a joke at each concert.
The concerts also receive a boost from Jimmy Lee Hook, a Toronto native now performing in Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and other areas, who again returned, with his musical associate Sam Hudnell, to perform at no cost to the group.
Hook’s concert last year generated the most donations, helped in part with a donation by Hook himself.
Komar said many factors influence turnout for a concert, weather being a major one, but this year’s performance by the Ron Retzer Trio drew the most attendees and the most donations for 2022.
He said the many dollars raised for local causes also must be attributed to the generosity of those who attended each show.
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.)