Milwaukee county has many wonderful events to offer music lovers in this Great City by the Great Lake Michigan. Every weekend during the summer there is a festival or two going on around the city mostly at the Summerfest grounds. Plenty of music of all varieties can be heard around the various stages.
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What Mike and I love the most, however, is the free concerts put on by Milwaukee County Parks, the most popular being Thursday nights Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square Park. Every Thursday the small square park in the heart of downtown Milwaukee is crawling with music lovers. Some people go all out and bring their own little bistro table and chairs pulling out wine, cheese and assorted fruit from cute little picnic baskets. Venders sell hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, wine, beer or soda. A local pizza restaurant across the street will deliver pizza to your spot.
In the front of the stage after the dance area is a section for those with blankets which is where you would find Mike and I sprawled out on our blanket we use special for the occasion. We were lucky one year to hear the jazz artistsEuge Groove before he became huge and you had to shell out big bucks to hear him play. That was one intoxicating concert. This year Jazz in the Park kicks off their season with blues band Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys.
Another of our favorites is the concerts held at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park. This concert is not as crowded as the popular Jazz in the Park making for a more intimate setting with the fragrant air of flowers, herbs and fresh mowed grass in the air. This park does not limit its repertoire to just jazz or blues which is evident from the first performance of the season being Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Occasionally we will venture to other parks if some of our favorites such as Street Life with Warren Wiegratz, Christopher’s Project or the Eddie Butts Band are playing
It was while attending one of these concerts, that we were introduced to Frank Pachucki, a colorful local character dressed in casual dress pants and shirts dancing by himself in front of the stage at State Fair Park. That was almost 20 years ago. Pachucki had to have been 65 then making Mike and I a young and vibrant 41. I must admit I thought Pachucki was too old to be dancing all by himself. I was aghast at his bold audacity. After a while, he was joined by Betty Hornby who was five years older he was. They became known around town as the ‘dancing couple’. Their energy seemed endless. They would dance their version of swing or ballroom dancing to every number be it fast, slow or in between. After a while we started to look for this dancing couple at concerts. It didn’t seem like a concert unless those two were up front dancing. As they grew older and Mike and I grew older they no longer seemed an oddity. They were part of the ambiance and endearing.
About two years back ill health landed Pachucki in an assisted living facility but that did not stop him from dancing. Unable to attend concerts Hornby took a bus to visit him every day and with his walker gliding along side he and Hornby continued to dance.
What started out for me as odd ball behavior by a strange old man turned into an amazing story of inspiration by a wise elder who knew how to forge ahead with your life passion despite age, ridicule, sideways glances or illness.I just learned from the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel that this past Wednesday Pachucki died. He was 85. What I feel he left behind was the example of how to live what you love. Thank you Frank, I plan to live my love of writing. I encourage you to watch the video below and feel the inspiration flow through you. Are you ready to live what you love?