The moment Hair of the Dog began rocking out Wednesday night, children gathered on the dance floor in front of the stage at Freedom Park in Scotia, the setting sun warming their smiling faces as they bobbed their heads, twirled and clapped along with the Celtic music.
The Freedom Park kickoff concert was a family affair this year, with a couple of thousand people in attendance. An hour before the band took the stage, people were already setting up their picnic blankets and chairs, many with Jumpin’ Jack’s hot dogs in hand.
Sara Pandori, 38, brought the whole family out to see Hair of the Dog.
“It is our kids’ first time seeing them — perfect spot,” she said. “The days before children we used to go see them all the time.”
The free summer concert series at Freedom Park welcomes artists and bands from the Capital Region and beyond. Hair of the Dog, a Celtic folk/rock band, has always been a local favorite.
“We love Hair of the Dog,” Bob Smith, 65, said.
Marianne Smith, 66, agreed and said they have followed the band for years. But the beauty of the venue is another reason they frequent the Freedom Park concerts.
“The park is beautiful,” she said. “Scotia has always had this beautiful park.”
Most of the people in the crowd were longtime Hair of the Dog fans. And although Isaac D’Allaird, 9, did not know who the band was, he was still very excited to hear them play.
“Well, our aunt is visiting from London, so we just thought we would come and celebrate,” he said. “And it’s not raining.”
Amy D’Allaird, Isaac’s mother, said a combination of the warm weather, Jumpin’ Jack’s next-door and the band drew them out for the concert.
“It’s not raining. We like the band,” she said. “We are celebrating the end of the school year.”
The warm weather, or rather, the lack of rain, was one of the main reasons people came out for the concert.
“If it was pouring, we would have put their CDs on and listened to them at home,” Jim Donohue, 53, joked.
His wife, Ann, 51, agreed.
“If it was pouring, we probably would have skipped,” she said.
The Freedom Park concert series is funded by season sponsor Mohawk Honda, dance floor sponsor Scotia Glenville Dental Center and media partners CDTA, YNN, B95.5 FM and The Daily Gazette, as well as community show sponsors. The kickoff concert was sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance.
The next free concert at Freedom Park will be “Little Elvis” Paul Hunt, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Jim Donohue said he and his wife plan on going to many more concerts at Freedom Park this summer.
“I just hung up the schedule on my refrigerator this morning,” he said. “You can’t beat the price.”