Music in the Park is back just in time for summer with a new organizer.
After 14 years, Frankie Zavinski passed the free summer program at Soldiers and Sailors Park in downtown Warren to Rod Welling.
"I'm excited about doing it," Welling said, and with Zavinski's years of work he doesn't expect to miss a beat.
Both Jim and Frankie Zavinski ended their regular involvement in the program during a city council meeting last December.
"It is with a heavy heart that Jim and I have decided to end our weekly involvement in the Music in the Park program," Frankie said in a letter addressed to Northwest Savings Bank in December. "We both wish we could continue for another 17 years, however, our advancing years are beginning to take its toll on us."
Council member Dr. Howard Ferguson led council and the public in a round of applause for their efforts.
"We're getting older and we, I think, only missed two performances in 17 years," council member Jim Zavinski said. "We would like to see it continue and would help anyone who came forward to take it over."
Welling, a friend of the Zavinskis, who has performed soft rock and country music for free at the park under the name RnD WELLING, was approached shortly after to take over the program. He said, "Absolutely, I think it's a great program."
"It's hard to improve up," he said, adding little if nothing will change with the program. There will still be good mixture of music from classic rock to country. "There's not going to be any changes to the system at all, it's going to be pretty seamless."
Welling began booking bands for the summer as early as February.
"I've got to live up to their standards," he said. "I believe if it went away even for one year it would take forever to get it back to the level it is now."
While the program may have lost its long-time organizer, Welling said Northwest Savings Bank continues to sponsor the free concerts.
"Without them this program would not exist, they are the primary sponsor," Welling said.
The 2013 lineup for Music in the Park, which begins at 8 p.m., is:
Friday, June 7 Black Diamond, classic rock
Friday, June 14 Border Ride, bluegrass
Friday, June 21 Pete Pepke, jazz
Friday, June 28 Full House, country
Friday, July 5 Taught by Nuns, variety
Friday, July 12 4 Jays, 50s and 60s
Friday, July 19 Take Five, classic rock
Friday, July 26 RnD Welling, soft rock and country
Friday, Aug. 2, Touch of Gold, variety
Friday, Aug. 9 Loose Change Band, country
Friday, Aug. 16 Only Humen, classic rock
Friday, Aug.23 Temple Grey, soft rock
Friday, Aug. 30 James Earle II, variety
Friday, Sept. 6 Barbara Jean and Razz featuring Pete Pepke, jazz