I often wonder if the residents of Jamestown and the surrounding communities know the history of the Goranson Band Shell located in Allen Park. When was it proposed? Why was it proposed? Who was instrumental in its completion? To answer these questions, we have to go back 58 years or perhaps further - 65 years to 1946, to be precise.
After World War II, many area musicians played in the Jamestown Moose Concert Band or the Co. E Military Band. At this time, weekly concerts were alternated between Baker Park, Fenton Park (now Rite-Aid Pharmacy) and Allen Park. The concerts were also alternated between the Jamestown Moose Band and the Co. E Military Band.
These concerts were sponsored by the American Federation of Musicians, Local 134, in cooperation with the Jamestown City Parks and Recreation Department. At this time, members of both bands consisted only of male musicians. I do not know why membership was limited to only male musicians. For many years, there was an effort to combine the two bands. Through the effort of George Sundholm, manager of Co. E Military Band; Keith Emmanuelson, director of Co. E. Military Band; and officers of the Jamestown Moose Band - Maurice Swanson, director, and Gilbert Kling, manager - the two bands combined in 1953 to form the Jamestown Municipal Band. Keith Emmanuelson was director and George Sundholm was manager.
The Jamestown Municipal Band, seen here in 1960, was founded when the Jamestown Moose Concert Band and the Co. E Military Band were combined in 1953. The band has performed concerts in the Goranson?Band Shell at Allen Park each summer since the band shell was built in 1961.
The Jamestown Municipal Band has two objectives, which carries on today: 1) serving as an outlet for the talents of area musicians, and 2) serving the community by performing several concerts each summer. The formation of the Jamestown Municipal Band now included female musicians. Also welcomed into the band were area student musicians who receive excellent training in the area schools.
Membership in the band included students, housewives, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, professional people and music educators both active and retired. The number of members jumped from 40 musicians to 60. Many wonderful musicians were members of the Jamestown Municipal Band - Dr. Frank Smeragliuolo (assistant director), Floyd Bloomstrand, Dr. William Crosby, Bill Shannon (retired U.S. Navy Band member), Andrew Travis, Frank Guinta, Bill Boerst, Allan Swanson, Ned Conti, Edward Turner and Joe Mallare, just to name a few.
The Jamestown Municipal Band played eight summer concerts at various parks. To elevate the band above the audience, a ''hay wagon'' was used. The 60 members were crowded onto the ''hay wagon'' for each performance. With the large audience attending the weekly concerts, it became evident that a permanent place to perform was needed. The Allen Park Glen, because of its natural setting, was selected to be the site of a permanent band shell. The glen became the permanent site for the weekly band concerts and the ''hay wagon'' continued to be the ''stage.''
George Sundholm was named chairman of the fundraising committee for the permanent band shell. The band shell's base was made possible by contributions from civic, church and fraternal organizations, the Jamestown Municipal Band, and the City of Jamestown. It was dedicated on Oct. 2, 1961.
Mayor Carl F. Sanford expressed his opinion: ''This is progress and only the start, I am sure, of one of the most beautiful band shells in Western New York.''
Mayor Sanford's remarks were reiterated by Arthur R. Goranson, director of music in the Jamestown Public Schools system, 1929-1948, whose name the band shell bears. Mrs. Douglas S. Felt, president of the Allen Park Women's Club at the time, said, ''The club is proud to be a part of the project whose completion will be one more boost for Jamestown.''
At this time, a dedication concert was presented with Keith Emmanuelson, conductor, and Arthur R. Goranson, guest conductor. George Sundholm continued as fundraising chairman for the band shell until June 1966, when the band shell was completed.
The weekly concert was narrated by James Sharp, director of parks and recreation for the City of Jamestown. The Allen Park Women's Club provided refreshments for the audience that numbered approximately 300 to 400 people. The audience filled the glen and automobiles were parked around the perimeter of the glen, honking their horns at the end of each musical number to show approval.
In addition to the weekly concerts performed at the Goranson Band Shell, the Jamestown Municipal Band through the years has performed parades at local communities and North East, Pa., concerts at Allegany State Park, Buffalo Veterans Hospital, the Amphitheater at Chautauqua Institution and the patriotic concert at Bemus Point.
During the summer of 1975, a weeklong Italian Festival was held in Jamestown. Joe Tarto, a composer, arranger and tuba virtuoso from Somerset, N.J., was invited to be guest soloist with the Jamestown Municipal Band. Tarto performed on his eight-foot tuba that was built to his specification in 1927. He performed with this horn everywhere from orchestra pits to recording studios, radio and television stages, concert halls, night clubs, and movie lots. Tarto and the Jamestown Municipal Band performed ''Big Joe the Tuba,'' which he wrote to show off his big horn and his arrangement of ''Trumpet Polka.'' This performance was held in the Jamestown High School Auditorium with Al Smeragliuolo conducting.
Membership in the Jamestown Municipal Band is not limited to area musicians, but also to college students who return home in the summer months. Although members of the band change from year to year, there is a nucleus of 30 percent that remains constant. Two longtime members of this nucleus are Al Smeragliuolo, manager (member of Co. E Military Band, 1948, and the present Jamestown Municipal Band) and Mary Lou Servis, secretary-treasurer, 1953 to present. The band has had five directors in its 58 year history - Keith Emmanuelson, Al Smeragliuolo, Russell Germaine, Cecil Adams and the present director, Richard Lundquist.
The type of music the Jamestown Municipal Band performs is symphonic, overtures, marches, music from Broadway shows, novelties, solos, and ensembles with band accompaniment. Programs consist of patriotic numbers, children's songs, Broadway shows, and a potpourri of modern and old tunes. The programs are geared to the likes of everyone - young and old. Director Richard Lundquist strives to have a specific theme for each concert.
Due to reduced funding, the Allen Park weekly concerts have been reduced from eight concerts to three. Attendance varies from 150 to 250, depending on weather conditions. Past and current sponsors are American Federation of Musicians, Local 134; City of Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department; Allen Park Women's Club; Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Salon One; Raffa and Associates; Lind Funeral Home; Shawbucks; Wegmans; and Spectrum Eye Care.
To sponsor a Jamestown Municipal Band Concert at the Goranson Band Shell or to contribute a donation to keep the tradition going, contact Julia Ciesla-Hanley, recreation coordinator at the City of Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department, at 483-7523.
For more information about the Jamestown Municipal Band, contact Al Smeragliuolo at 664-5784.