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Concerts made audiences, nonprofits smile

A SEASON BEHIND THEM — George Komar, left, and Jon Greiner recently reflected on the well-attended series of free concerts held this summer by the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization with support from the Ohio Arts Council and 14 local businesses and organizations. When rain prevented the shows from being held at the Gazebo Commons, they were moved indoors to the adjacent First Presbyterian Church of Toronto with the cooperation of its congregation. -- Warren Scott

TORONTO — The Toronto Coalition for Revitalization’s series of summer concerts brought smiles to many area residents while yielding $1,650 for six local school or nonprofit groups.

The money came from donations received by concert-goers during intermissions and was distributed in the following amounts to: Toronto City Schools for back-to-school needs for students and the Toronto Ohio Historical Society, $500 each; the Toronto Elementary School reading program, $250; Toronto First Presbyterian Church, $200; and the Toronto Junior High School National Junior Honor Society and Cub Scout Pack 41, $100 each.

The scouts aided volunteers with the coalition in collecting the donations while selling snacks and small items for $1 each during the shows.

The coalition also was assisted by members of the Toronto High School National Honor Society.

Jon Greiner, coordinator of the concerts, said leaders and members of the First Presbyterian Church of Toronto graciously allowed the concerts to be moved into that building when it rained.

Greiner noted a variety of factors affect attendance at each concert and thus, the amount of donations received at each.

He said the largest amount raised had been $570 during the well attended performance of the Ron Retzer Trio until this year’s appearance by Jimmy Lee Hook and Sam Hudnell.

Then the coalition received $665 in donations, including $150 given by Hook himself, said Greiner, who noted the Toronto native doesn’t charge for his yearly performances because he sees it as a way of giving back to his hometown.

Now living in Cincinnati, Hook delivered a drive-up concert in the Toronto Junior-Senior High School parking lot last year when the pandemic led the coalition to cancel its other shows.

Greiner and George Komar, president of the coalition, also expressed thanks to the many businesses whose contributions have helped to support the concerts and to the Ohio Arts Council which, since 2018, has awarded a total of $5,290 in grants for them.

Greiner said the $1,525 grant awarded by the state agency this year accounted for about 25 percent of the group’s budget for the concerts.

The concerts’ business supporters this year were: B&W Auto Repair, Cedar One Realty, Clarke Funeral Home, J.E. Foster Funeral Homes, Howard Hanna Real Estate, Iggy’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, L.A. Wargo Home Improvement, Nationwide Insurance agent Chris Arnott, Ridge Machine & Welding Co., State Farm Insurance agent Toni Moreland, Margaret’s Cafe, the Toronto Beautification Committee, Cattrell Cos. Inc., Valley Converting and White Glove Supply.

Komar said as vice president of the coalition, Don Clarke provided valuable input while planning this season’s shows.

While the concert season has ended, the coalition remains busy with other activities.

Komar noted local artist Doug Griffith has begun painting the group’s newest mural on the east wall of the Special Way convenience store on North Fourth Street.

The painting will include 11 ovals depicting various aspects of the city, from the World War I Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Third and Market streets to Kaul Clay Manufacturing, a former business that produced ceramic pipe and other product and employed many local residents.

The project is supported by local contributions.

Komar said he’s pursuing another idea that involves painting on the sides of local buildings. He said he’s seen photos in social media of people posing in front of angel or butterfly wings and other objects so they appear to complete the scene with their presence. He said people could be encouraged to seek and photograph such paintings — which would be accompanied by the words “Toronto, Ohio” — and share the photos through social media.

Komar said the paintings and photos could help to bring attention to local businesses and other points of interest and he plans to approach owners of buildings that could be included.

He noted the project would be part of an ongoing effort to promote awareness of what has been called the Gem City.

In recent months the group posted on its website at thegemcity.org and Facebook page directories listing more than 80 local businesses and about 18 churches in Toronto.

It also has posted “Shop Local” banners along city streets and at Newburg Landing. The latter is aimed at boaters who dock there and notes many businesses are within walking distance.

Komar said there currently are plans to again hold a Christmas lighting event at the Gazebo Commons. Slated for Nov. 23, it includes the lighting of candles sponsored by residents in memory of loved ones.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Helping Hands food pantry, the Toronto Kiwanis Club’s Coats for Kids program, Crossroads Church’s Toys for Kids effort and the Toronto Unit of the Salvation Army.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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