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September 14, 2013

Music, Beach Club lovers descend on park for weekend benefit

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — Organizers and performers of Rock 2 Rebuild remain optimistic for an outpouring of Beach Club supporters despite a slow start to the weekend-long benefit concert.

Chilly and overcast weather may have hurt the overall turnout Friday evening, but those in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves as people danced on the lawn between two stages outside Hotel Conneaut.

“The crowd is on their way in,” said “Rockin Rich” Anton of WUZZ 94.3 FM, who emceed the first concert evening. “This is one of those events where a lot of people will be coming to see their favorite bands.”

Anton, sporting a Rock 2 Rebuild shirt, publicly thanked the crowd as well as an “all-volunteer” group of staff, security and performers for their participation before introducing the first outdoor act.

“These people are the special ones who got to see it kick off,” Anton said. “(Today) should be downright insane.”

Members of party/dance band Joyride described their experience opening for Rock 2 Rebuild as “awesome,” “amazing” and “fun.”

Playing a mix of rock covers from artists such as Pink and Ozzy Osbourne, Joyride felt collectively honored to have made its debut concert by its beloved Beach Club.

“We’re lucky we got to be a part of it,” said Scott Morgan, drummer. “We’re really excited to give back.”

“The Beach Club was a premiere venue, so we definitely want to see it get built up again,” said Matt Moinet, lead guitarist.

After their set, members of Joyride reminisced about their previous gigs at the Beach Club in previous bands as well as fond childhood memories of Conneaut Lake Park.

In addition to the dual stages outside, Elizabeth’s restaurant featured a more relaxed ambiance with acoustic bands inside the hotel.

“I think it’s pretty cool; the bands are excited to be here,” Steve Popovich of Park Restoration LLC said. “People are pumped up. Most people are buying three-day passes.”

As of Friday morning, Hotel Conneaut just about sold out of rooms for today, Popovich said.

“Everyone wants to see (the Beach Club) rebuilt,” he said. “And we have the capability to do it.”

Responding to a growing public concern as to whether a reconstruction will occur, Rock 2 Rebuild’s lead organizers, Jason Hetrick and Jason Stolarz, worked out a backup plan for funds raised over the weekend.

“The plan is, if Park Restoration doesn’t get to rebuild, we donate to the fire departments around Conneaut Lake,” Stolarz said.

Proceeds would go toward new equipment for Summit Township firefighters to help stay “proactive and ahead,” Hetrick said.

Park Restoration officials have said they want to rebuild the Beach Club as long as the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park agree to several specific provisions, including rebuilding in concrete in order to lessen the impact of any future fires; that Park Restoration receive a 30-year lease in order to recoup its investment; and that the property get its own property tax identification number so that Park Restoration could pay off and keep current the property tax.

Regardless of potential outcomes, the majority of those involved with the concert believe rebuilding the Beach Club is not only possible but also practical, given the number of people who donated their time to make the benefit concert a reality, according to Anton.

“Rebuilding is just the right thing to do,” Anton said. “We consider ourselves friends of the Beach Club. We’re all in it together.”

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