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Summer Arts Festival To Begin 50th Season with Special Chapin Family Concert

The Town of Huntington will help kick off the 50th anniversary of the Summer Arts Festival Saturday June 27 by unveiling the new marquee that officially brands the Heckscher Park stage in memory of the late folksinger Harry Chapin and by honoring the Chapin family and the group Why Hunger, which Chapin co-founded with his friend, radio personality Bill Ayres, 40 years ago

Following the ceremonies at a VIP reception at the Heckscher Museum and on the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage, several members of the Chapin family — Harry’s daughter Jen, his brothers Tom and Steve and the Chapin Sisters — will perform a special concert. Residents are encouraged to bring a blanket or a lawn chair to enjoy the free concert, at which the family will perform some of Harry Chapin’s most memorable hits, such as “Taxi,” “Flowers Are Red,” and his No. 1 hit “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

Concertgoers are advised to arrive well before the 8:15 p.m. starting time for the ceremony, which will directly precede the concert. The last time the family performed on the Chapin Rainbow Stage — in July 2011, marking the 30th anniversary of the automobile accident that took Harry Chapin’s life — they played to a packed audience.

“I can think of no better way to celebrate two cultural icons who have meant so much to Huntington than by bringing them together at this special event,” Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said. “The Summer Arts Festival, which the Town has presented in collaboration with the Huntington Arts Council for a half century, defines the Town as a cultural mecca. And everyone remembers Harry Chapin’s love for the Town in which he lived and his efforts to fight hunger.”

Founded in 1975, Why Hunger is a grassroots support organization that works with more than 8,000 community-based groups across the country and around the world to fight hunger and poverty. What began as a simple movement between two friends — Chapin and Ayres — to make a difference has grown into an award-winning global non-profit, leading the movement to end hunger and poverty and creating a just and sustainable food system. Why Hunger remains committed to the belief that everyone deserves access to nutritious, affordable food and that together, we can truly make a difference.

“I recently sat down with Bill Ayres, and we spoke about Harry and their dual commitment to helping people,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said. “We are asking the public to join us in paying tribute to Harry and Bill by bringing donations of nonperishable food to the concert. All of the food will be donated to Long Island Cares, the food bank Harry Chapin also founded.”

Concertgoers will also have the opportunity to contribute money, by dropping loose change into donation boxes entitled, “Harry Keep the Change,” a reference to Chapin’s seminal hit, “Taxi.”

Harry Chapin also holds a special place in the history of the Huntington Arts Council.  Sandy Chapin, Harry Chapin’s wife, is a former Vice President of the Council, and was an integral force of the Lively Arts Festival, in which Harry performed.  Sandy Chapin created the organization’s wildly successful Journey Program, which is now implemented in seven school districts. Councilwoman Susan A. Berland honored Sandy Chapin as Woman of the Year ibn 2002.

“The Summer Arts Festival is ingrained in the fabric of Huntington life, an institution that residents await each year with great expectation,” Councilwoman Susan A. Berland said. “The Town is proud of its heritage supporting the arts and appreciates the Arts Council’s role in managing the festival over the past half century.”

“No matter what their taste – jazz, classical, contemporary — residents will find something for them to enjoy over the course of the festival’s 40 nights,” Councilwoman Tracey A. Edwards said. “The festival provides a perfect way to end a summer day with music under the stars.”

Councilman Eugene Cook said, “The Summer Arts Festival is one of the reasons people love coming to Heckscher Park with their family, especially because the price is right and the memories will be priceless.”

The Summer Arts Festival runs from Thursday, June 25 until Sunday, August 9. All performances are free and held at The Chapin Rainbow Stage. Shows are Tuesday- Sunday with performances beginning at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evenings are Family Nights and performances begin at 7:30 p.m.  All shows are held rain or shine. The Huntington Summer Arts Festival is produced by the Town of Huntington and presented by the Huntington Arts Council. The presenting sponsor is Canon USA. The festival is also supported by Suffolk County and New York State Council on the Arts.


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