COVENTRY — Nothing says summer quite like watching live music from a lawn chair, perusing classic cars, or catching a flick from the shore of Tiogue Lake.
“It’s definitely good to be able to bring back the activities that people want,” Raena Blumenthal, director of Coventry Parks and Recreation, said Tuesday of the return of free summer entertainment and movie nights.
Last year, tight pandemic restrictions forced a hiatus on the town’s popular outdoor concert series and other seasonal activities. But as the country continues to reopen, the Coventry Parks and Recreation Department is eager to welcome residents back for those beloved events this summer.
“It’s very exciting for us,” Blumenthal continued. “It’s a good way for the community to get together, so we’re really happy to be able to put [these events] on again.”
Beginning this week, the town will host a weekly summer concert series at the Town Hall Annex, featuring seven concerts over the next two months. A different band will play each Friday, with music styles ranging to appeal to all tastes.
The series will include favorite bands from years past — like Rolling Stones tribute band 19th Nervous Breakdown, the Billy Shears Band, and Coventry’s own Stumbling Murphy — as well as bands new to Coventry. Based on feedback from other communities, Blumenthal said, Good Vibe Tribe has been included, as has Greystone Rail.
Whether you prefer classic rock, top 40, Motown, or bluegrass, she added, “there’s music for everybody.”
Each concert will take place in conjunction with a cruise-in, during which a portion of the parking lot will be designated for antique cars.
“We have a lot of town employees, a lot of local car enthusiasts who come, listen to music, chat,” Blumenthal said. “It’s a really good time for them, and everyone gets to see really beautiful vehicles.”
The series is sponsored by Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Home, D’Ambra Construction, Ocean State Credit Union, Airhart Electric, Concordia Manufacturing, Iannotti Funeral Home and Rhode Island Orthopedic Group.
Concerts will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. during the month of July, and in August from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at 1675 Flat River Road. The cruise-ins will open half an hour ahead of each concert. In case of rain, concerts will move to Sunday.
“We love providing this entertainment series to the community — people bring blankets and chairs, and just sit to enjoy music on a Friday night,” Blumenthal said, noting that there will be a tent set up to provide shade. “I love going and seeing everyone dancing, or tapping their feet. It’s just a lot of fun.”
The Parks and Rec Department has also partnered with the Coventry Public Library to host two family-friendly movie nights at Briar Point Beach later this summer.
The free outdoor movie nights have been very popular in years past, Blumenthal said. Originally held at the Annex, the events have since been moved to the town beach, a setting that epitomizes summer fun.
“It’s really just fun for the kids to sit in the sand, see a movie on the beach,” she said, adding that there will be crafts, as well. “It’s very family friendly.”
On July 31 at 7 p.m., “Raya and the Last Dragon” will be projected onto the giant inflatable screen; “Onward” will be featured on Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
And though summer has just begun, the department has already started thinking about some of its other annual community events, like its Halloween Spooktacular and its tree-lighting ceremony.
“We’re looking to have more in-person activities this year,” Blumenthal said. “We’re always planning for the next big event.”