Batavia’s July 4th Picnic in the Park celebration

Jul 5, 2018

The hot weather may have kept some people from the events held in the city to celebrate America’s birthday, but there was still a good turnout Wednesday at Centennial Park, said Greg Hallock, aka Uncle Sam.

Standing near the cold drinks tent dressed in an Uncle Sam costume 90-plus-degree Fourth of July, Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council executive director said the heat deterred some people from coming, but added, “There had to be at least 2,000 people walking around,” in Centennial Park, where the Picnic in the Park took place following the Batavia Kiwanis Independence Day Run, held that morning.

With a crowd seated all around the park in front of a stage, the headlining performance Wednesday was by Buffalo Aerial Dance. The group performed a style of dance that incorporates acrobatics and hanging equipment/fabrics popularized by Cirque du Soleil, according to the Picnic in the Park program.

The Batavia Concert Band, Kelly’s Old Timers and The Old Hippies were part of the musical lineup, as was a group of students from Batavia City Schools and Alexander and Le Roy central school districts.

“It ended up being students from all over Genesee County that came,” Hallock said. “It was directed by Mark Hoerbelt (Alexander Middle School/High School music teacher), Lauren Hoerbelt (St. Joseph’s School music teacher) and (Le Roy teacher) Jackie McLean. She (McLean) also sang with the Batavia Concert Band. She’s got an incredible voice.”

Regarding the music Wednesday’s crowd heard in the park, Hallock said Kelly’s Old Timers was there two years ago.

“I do know we had a lot of requests to bring back Kelly’s Old Timers,” he said. “We got a lot of emails. Everybody loves them.

“This is our 40th anniversary (of Picnic in the Park),” Hallock said. “We originally were going to go with the idea of the ‘40s, so they seemed to make sense. The Batavia Concert Band went with some stuff from the ‘40s, Big Band.

By Brian Quinn, Batavia Daily News