COVENTRY — “Eleanor Rigby” echoed from the gazebo outside the Town Hall Annex, as a crowd of Coventry residents relaxed in folding chairs and children danced in the grass and played yard games. In an adjacent parking lot, vintage cars sat on display, their hoods popped to show off the details of the engines beneath.

The perfect summer evening. 

The gathering Friday kicked off the town’s free outdoor concert and cruise-in series. Featuring a different band each week throughout the summer, the occasions are an opportunity to bring the community together for a fun time, said Dawn Malardo of the Coventry Parks and Recreation Department.

“It gives them something to do, to have family time and outdoor time — it’s kind of a family social event,” Malardo said, as The Billy Shears Band played tunes by The Beatles to a packed lawn. 

“It’s nice, because people get to meet each other,” she continued.

For Ana Picozzi and her family, at least, the weekly events offer the chance to hear good music as they visit with family and friends. 

“My mom likes to come here and listen to music,” said Picozzi, a student at Washington Oak Elementary School.

Standing beside Megan LaCroix, a Western Coventry Elementary School student, as a rendition of “Imagine” played in the background, Picozzi pointed out that the events also let her socialize while on summer break. 

“We get to see friends from school,” she said. “I saw a couple of my best friends from school here, and we’re going to be playing in a few minutes.”

LaCroix added that she’d also just run into her teacher. 

But Friday’s event was special for another reason, as well, Picozzi said — it was her baby sister’s first outdoor concert. 

“We want to show her around over here,” Picozzi said.

As for the car show portion, sponsored by Finn Auto Body, all are welcome to swing by in their antique vehicles for the cruise-in, with various awards and raffle prizes given to participants each week.

“It’s nice — it gives you something to do at night,” Kenny Iannotti said, sitting in the driver’s seat of his orange 1955 Chevrolet.

Rusty old pickup trucks and sedans harking back several decades lined one of the parking lots outside the Town Hall Annex Friday, their owners perched in lawn chairs beside them. Nearby, kids ran around the yard, doing cartwheels and lawn bowling; adults chatted with one another as they listened to live music.

Indeed, Friday’s kickoff event was one for the books. 

“You get to see old cars and listen to music,” Picozzi said. “You get to get people out in the world. Everyone needs to have a little fun.”

The free outdoor concert and cruise-in series will continue this Friday at 7 p.m. outside the Town Hall Annex at 1675 Flat River Road, with entertainment by local country band Al Carter & the Nashville Boys. All are welcome, and are encouraged to bring chairs and picnic supplies. 

kgravelle@ricentral.com

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