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The community sing last night was so much fun. Bookman and I biked over to Minnehaha park, about a twenty minute ride on a bike path along Minnehaha creek near our house. The event was held in a covered picnic area with benches so we didn’t have to unfurl our blanket on the ground. The sing leaders had a microphone and guitars and a tambourine set up. We all filled in on the benches, about 150 of us old and young and a few canine. One particular dog was having a great time. If there was applause after a song, the dog would give a few happy barks in lieu of clapping. The weather was gorgeous, clear sky, light breeze, and temperature around 73F (22.7C). The area is on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi, a really lovely spot to gather and sing.

What did we sing? Well, a small group from the Twin Cities Labor Chorus was there so we sang several union-related songs. We also sang a few songs written by local musicians including one about the Welna Hardware store and another about locally grown food from CSAs (community supported agriculture, i.e. farm shares). It was crunchy granola Minneapolis at its best. Oh how I love this city!

But there were more well known songs too. The evening started off with In the Good Old Summer Time and Down by the Old MIll Stream. The Happy Wanderer got a rousing loud sing especially on the chorus. John Lennon’s Imagine was also enjoyed by all, perhaps the adults more than the kids. We sang Haul Away Joe as a call and response which was lots of fun. And our memories as well as the song leader’s memory (who goofed up) were challenged by The Rattlin Bog. King of the Road made me want to get up and foxtrot since it is a song Bookman and I used to dance to during ballroom dance lessons. A woman sitting next to us attempted to channel Tina Turner while we sang Proud Mary. She succeeded in being highly amusing but her Tina impression needs work. And what would a sing along be without A little Woodie Gutherie? We did all the verses of This Land is Your Land. I only ever knew the first two and had no idea there were so many. Bookman was disappointed we didn’t sing the Carpenter’s song “Sing.” So Bookman, this is for you:

The event lasted about an hour. There were some people there who could sing really well, but being able to sing well is not a requirement which is good since while I can sing in tune more or less, I don’t have a nice voice. But when you have 150 people singing together it doesn’t matter how your voice sounds since it gets blended in with everyone else’s.

There is actually quite a history of community sings in Minneapolis. They started being held in the parks in the summers of 1918 and continued well into the 1950s. In 1919 an annual prize began to be given out for the best singing park. The quality of the voices weren’t judged as much as enthusiasm and participation. The summer of 1929 logged the largest attendance record of over 300,000 people. I think it’s a really pleasant way to spend an evening and can’t fail to lift one’s spirits. We are planning to attend the next one at the same location on July 16th.

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