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The Manchester Bicentennial Band Shell was conceived as a living memorial of the nation's celebration of its 200th Birthday in 1976.
The Band Shell facility represents a special model of community life. The State of Connecticut and its agency, Manchester Community College, provide the land, by a forty-year lease to the Town of Manchester. The building is owned by the Town and was built by private funds. The Band Shell Board of Directors manages the programming of the summer concerts.
The first concerts were presented in the summer of 1977 and for the past thirty-five years have become a regular part of Manchester's summer season. The number of concerts has varied over the years from the first season of ten performances to 43 in 1986. In 2012, over 15,000 attended 26 concerts. Performers have come from all over the world as well as from Manchester to entertain our audiences during the last quarter of a century.
It has been the policy and practice during these years that no admission is charged for any concerts. The generous backing of community business sponsors, gifts and memorial contributions and donations received during concert intermissions support the programs and related expenses of the Band Shell.
In addition to concerts, the Band Shell has been the site of Manchester Community College commencement ceremonies and is part of the venue for the Town of Manchester 4th of July festivities.
While countless volunteers have given generously of their time to do all the tasks necessary to the operation of the Band Shell, there is one individual who needs to be mentioned by name. Ralph Maccarone, a retired Manchester music teacher, was for 18 years the guiding force who helped bring the Band Shell into being and brought it to a mature and successful feature of our Town.
Even though the Band Shell is an open-air facility, we have carried on in a heavy mist. We have learned that unless a concert is cancelled, there will be an audience no matter how threatening the sky may be. For these past thirty five years the loyalty of our audiences has been a testimonial to the vision of the people who in 1977 worked to create this living memorial, the Manchester Bicentennial Band Shell.
As we look to the future, the Board of Directors invites suggestions for concerts and welcomes new volunteers so that we may continue the tradition of music in the summertime in Manchester.