The Downs Park amphitheater has provided entertainment to the people of Pasadena for more than 30 years — but, as with every good thing, there comes a time when change is necessary. The current amphitheater is physically deteriorating and fails to shade performers from the sweltering summer heat. With these issues in mind, the Friends of Downs Park began fundraising for a new amphitheater that will provide shade and ventilation for performers.
In June and September, Downs Park holds summer concerts, but they are unable to hold concerts in the middle of summer due to the heat.
“We’re having problems getting some of our entertainers to come in — like the military bands, they don’t want to come in because it’s too hot,” explained Jane Huffman, vice president of the Friends of Downs Park. “Even for [Treasurer Stephanie McGregor] or for myself to go down to do the little blurb welcoming everybody, you come back and you are just drenched. We can’t imagine how the entertainers are down there, and some of them refuse because it is too warm.”
The project will cost about $530,000. So far, the Friends of Downs Park group has personally collected $40,000, received $75,000 from the state of Maryland last year and $100,000 from the state this year, giving them just over $200,000. If the proposed bond bill of $245,000 — proposed by Senator Bryan Simonaire and Delegate Nic Kipke — comes through, the Friends of Downs Park will still need to raise $50,000 to $100,000 more to reach the grand total, according to McGregor. If all goes well, the new amphitheater will allow Downs Park to hold concerts in the middle of summer and begin new traditions such as movie nights in the park.
The current blueprint of the new amphitheater was drawn up thanks to the gratis work of architect Joseph Mayer.
“We can’t make it any bigger. It has to stay in the same footprint that it’s in because of the location that it’s in because it’s marshy,” McGregor said. “You can’t expand it any. It has to be in that same footprint.”
While there is still some progress to be made, the Friends of Downs Park continues to work hard to make the venue a welcoming place for the community, thanks to loyal volunteers and sponsors.
“Our sponsors are a huge part of what we do – help us keep our costs low enough to be able to do enough stuff for the community, because that’s our biggest goal,” McGregor said. “Yes, we want the new amphitheater, but our biggest goal is really serving our community.”
With 236 acres and 2,000 feet of Chesapeake Bay shoreline, Downs Park is a treat on the bay every day, but the Friends of Downs Park work hard to ensure the park is more than just a pretty space.
Fifteen active members in the Friends of Downs Park group attend meetings and plan park events. For those interested in getting involved, the nonprofit is always looking for new members.
Events throughout the year at the park include lunch with the Easter Bunny, Community Family Day, the annual Trick or Treat Trail and Cookies & Cocoa with Santa. In addition, the summer concert series is going on now during the remaining Sundays in June and the upcoming Sundays in September.