By Abbie DeMuth
For The Signal
Concerts in the Park had been a Saturday summer ritual for Bailey Geyer and her family before the pandemic.
As Santa Clarita’s COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease, Geyer said she felt safe attending the large, outdoor summer concert series the city hosts each summer at Central Park in Saugus.
“Our son has a couple of autoimmune diseases so it is still a little scary to attend — but it’s important to live and start doing things,” said Geyer. “We feel comfortable in this sort of venue because it is out in the open and everybody is keeping their distance. Everyone has been respectful.”
The Geyers joined thousands of Santa Claritans who celebrated Independence Day weekend at the kickoff show of this year’s Concerts in the Park series, which was on hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic. Saturday marked the return of the series for the first time in two years with The PettyBreakers, a Tom Petty tribute band.
The planning effort faced a unique challenge with the 2021 Concerts in the Park, due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 safety protocols, according to Kyle Lopez, the events supervisor for the city.
“Having to hold off and wait so close to when the concerts were going to start was the most difficult thing in planning this year,” said Lopez. “We had multiple plans prepared to make sure we were in compliance, if there were any restrictions in place when the concerts began.”
This summer’s band lineup is the same as the lineup for canceled 2020 Concerts in the Park.
“So many bands were hit hard from the entertainment industry shutting down because of COVID-19,” Lopez said. “We wanted to honor those agreements that were already placed for the prior year.”
At the end of the day, the residents may have had concerns, but overwhelmingly more seemed to be looking forward to getting back to enjoying a Santa Clarita summer tradition since 1988.
“Most of the public was excited to have something that they could come out and go and see,” Lopez said. “The fact that we are outdoors and people are considerate out in the field and stay in their areas and mark them off.”
Geyer’s children ran circles around their parents’ lawn chairs as the music played.
“My daughter was so excited to do this again because she remembers coming out to the concerts,” Geyer said. “She has been asking us all week if the concert was tonight.”
The PettyBreakers concert attracted a variety of music listeners, even those who do not consider themselves Tom Petty fans.
Jill Zabicki, a “kind of” Tom Petty fan, was drawn to attend the concert to experience live music again after over a year of the pandemic.
“It’s just good to get out of the house and music is an energy within itself, so it’s good to be a part of it,” Zabicki said. “It’s a feeling of liberty and freedom.”
Concerts in the Park occur at Central Park at 7 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 28, except Aug. 7. Find the lineup at https://bit.ly/3hLgwlt.