The annual Moonlight Concert in Paradise is set for the evening of August 9 at Ellenhurst, the estate of David and Linda Hankinson. The award-winning event features the Annapolis Bigband and a lot of atmosphere.
Moonlight Concert is all about community
By Heather Killen
It’s time to come out swinging again in Paradise.
David and Linda Hankinson have been hosting the annual concert on the grounds of Ellenhurst in Paradise for more than a decade.
This year the 17-member Annapolis Big Band plays under the silvery moon (accompanied by the stars and some twinkly white strings of LED lights) on August 9 (rain date is August 10).
This summer tradition gets people of all ages swinging to the sounds of the big band era with five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, and a rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass, and drums.
The band members have about 100 waltzes, ballads, and jive numbers in their collective repertoire.
Each year on average the concert attracts about 1,000 people to Paradise and over time, has raised more than $50,000 for upgrades to the Paradise Community Hall. This year’s concert will help with much-needed painting and repairs of the exterior, according to Barbara Bishop.
She says that while the Moonlight Concert comes around once a year as the community’s star attraction, the hall is the heart that keeps the community warm and united during the coldest months of the year.
Community groups use the hall all year for various activities including fitness classes, ballroom dancing, corn boils, parties, and painting classes. Built in 1936, this is one of the few community halls in the valley that has always been a community center.
Unlike other converted schools, this building was always used as a community hall, complete with stage for drama groups, and lots of room to hold an audience, or a community dance.
Bishop says there is a strong tradition of volunteerism in Paradise that continues to rally the community spirit throughout difficult times. Each year the Women’s Institute raffles a quilt they make to support various projects in Paradise.
Some of the WI’s past projects have included the billboard sign in front of the community hall, buying the old Paradise School, and even buying the community sidewalks.
Bishop added that recently someone asked her why some small rural communities remain so vibrant while others fall into decline.
“This is all I know, we have a number of volunteers that keep our community going,” she said. “We have a dedicated core who truly love Paradise, and we have some great infrastructure. We have managed a degree of cohesion, a difficult thing when we have lost our school, our businesses, our beloved railway, and most of our farms.”
The same community volunteers who make a difference at the hall also pitch in to help make the Moonlight Concert a magical evening that benefits not only music lovers, but also the community of Paradise.
This fundraiser started 15 years ago when David Hankinson invited his band over for a barbecue and practice session. The idea was jazzed up a little when they turned their jam session into a benefit concert for the Paradise Community Hall.
About 250 people came to the first concert and each year after, more and more people attended. There’s something magical about the evening, as the sun sets and the band strikes up that takes people back in time.
While they always have a rain date picked for the concert, they seldom use it.
The Moonlight Concert takes place at Ellenhurst on Highway 1 in Paradise on August 9 at 7:30 p.m. feel free to bring refreshments, but pets and barbecues are asked to stay home. For more information call 584-3570.