SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A music mainstay knew it would have to pause this summer due to COVID-19, but members may not get to play at all next season.
The City’s proposed budget for 2021 has cut the Sioux Falls Municipal Band from the Parks and Rec Department.
The money for the program is about $130,000, but members say its value to the community is priceless.
The Sioux Falls Municipal Band has been around for more than 100 years. Even though the color is faded in several old videos of performances, Beverly Hallstrom’s memories of good times are as vivid as ever.
“(We were) Sitting down here down on a blanket, watching any kids that would come along,” Hallstrom said.
Hallstrom is a big fan, and never misses a performance.
“I feel part of the band myself, really,” Hallstrom said.
She and her late husband started watching at Terrace Park in the early ’90s.
“The music was wonderful,” Hallstrom said. “To think we wouldn’t have it is just alarming.”
Members, including flute player Shannon Abels, are trying to come to terms with the news they might not get to make music again.
“I was shocked and disappointed,” Shannon Abels said.
Bandmaster Christopher Hill says the group performed for 17,000 people last year, and it would be a shame for the community to lose it.
“It adds to the quality of life,” Hill said. “It’s not just a letdown to the band members, but to the city. We go out and play a bunch of retirement communities. We play military-honoring events.”
The City Council has yet to approve the budget, so Hill says the best way to help is to contact your city council member.
“Keep it positive. That’s one thing I want to stress. This isn’t personal. This is something we need to show them what the band means to so many aspects of our community,” Hill said.
Mayor Paul TenHaken wasn’t able to do an on-camera interview, but sent this statement:
“While the City of Sioux Falls has been more insulated than other communities from the economic impact of the pandemic, we have had to make some tough choices in the proposed 2021 budget. This budget reflects priorities within the One Sioux Falls framework of maintaining our current infrastructure and assets and continuing to provide core municipal services that residents rely on daily. We are hopeful the Sioux Falls Municipal Band can continue providing music to the community by finding a model that works in today’s economic environment. The Sioux Falls Municipal Band has served as a long-standing value to the community since 1919, and we are thankful for the success of the program. Sioux Falls continues to offer a vibrant arts and music scene,” TenHaken said.
Hill and Abels optimistic about the band’s future.
“Bring the funding back so they can continue for another 100 years,” Abels said.
Hallstrom hopes that’s true, so her the music of her beloved Sioux Falls Municipal Band doesn’t fade into just a memory.
“It would just be so sad if they let this go,” Hallstrom said.