On the last Friday of each month of the summer, the sound of live music carries for blocks in the area surrounding Grosse Pointe Woods City Hall. Music on the Lawn is an annual city tradition of three summer concerts that are free to the public, which has returned in full swing this summer after a brief shutdown.
Assistant City Administrator Susan Como said that Music on the Lawn started in 2015, but it is not the first community event hosted by the city.
“We used to do fireworks, and that got really big,” said Como. “Then we tried a farmer’s market for three years.”
Como said that these were successful events, but the Grosse Pointe Woods City Council wanted an event with more of a small town, close-knit community feel, and Music on the Lawn was the answer.
“The whole goal was to reach out to more residents, since the fireworks and farmer’s market brought in a lot of people but most were from outside the community,” said Como.
While Music on the Lawn is an annual event and takes place outdoors, it was not spared from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It completely shut it down in that first year of COVID,” said Como. “In 2021, we were gearing back up to bring it back and then there was another surge. We canceled it in June and July but we were able to have it in August, and it was very successful.”
Public Safety Director John G. Kosanke said about 400 residents of all ages usually come to each Music on the Lawn. With such a large gathering of people, public safety is a top priority and a few extra precautions are necessary.
“When you get a crowd and there’s alcohol mixed in with it, you have to be more careful, especially with checking ID’s,” said Kosanke. “Most of the extra precautions we take are with our physical presence at the event.”
Kosanke said that uniformed officers are present at the event, along with auxiliary officers, who are members of the community that volunteer and go through multiple aspects of training to help keep the community safe in events like this.
With an event of this size comes a lot of set up. This is where the Department of Public Works steps up.
“They start a couple days ahead of time making sure that the lawn is all cut and everything is looking good,” said City Administrator Frank Schulte. “They also set up a fence around the perimeter of the lawn, because you have to when alcohol is being served.”
Schulte said that the Department of Public Works is also responsible for setting up the most important part of Music on the Lawn: a 25 foot by 12 foot soundstage that is full of the electrical equipment necessary to put on a successful show.
Another community-based aspect of Music on the Lawn is how it gets paid for. Como said that the event costs about $20,000 for the city to put on, and to do that with very little to no cost to the taxpayer as they usually do, sponsorships from local businesses play a major role.
“It’s $1,800 to be a sponsor,” said Como. “It’s $3,600 to be an exclusive sponsor, Ascension Hospital is our only exclusive sponsor, but that means they are the only hospital that can sponsor this event. We usually bring in about $18,000 worth of sponsorships.”
Como said that there is food available at Music on the Lawn as well, and it is normally provided by local vendors or the local National Coney Island.
While the focus of the event is the community, an exception is made for the entertainment. The bands that perform are different every time, and while some feature members that live in the community, most come from areas surrounding Grosse Pointe Woods.
People who attend the event are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to sit on, and soft drinks, beer and wine are available for purchase. The next two concerts are on July 24 and Aug. 26.