An end of an era for Watertown Concert in the Park organizer

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Thursday’s Concert in the Park and fireworks show will be the final note for Carl A. McLaughlin.

This will be the last year that McLaughlin will head the committee for the Noon Rotary Club, which has put on the Fourth of July concert in Thompson Park for almost a decade.

Rotary member Kevin Jordan will take over the committee chair for next year’s concert, although McLaughlin will continue to be involved.

“I’m still going to be a worker bee,” McLaughlin said.

The Concert in the Park begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the historic city park.

McLaughlin got involved when the Noon Rotary took over organizing the event after it looked like its decade’s run could come to an end.

Rande S. Richardson, Northern New York Community Foundation executive director, approached the Rotary about organizing the annual concert following the sudden death of Michael C. Miller, president of the North Country Arts Council, McLaughlin recalled.

“Rande asked would you folks be interested and I thought it was a good idea,” he said.

For many years, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra performed the Fourth of July concert but that run ended with its demise in 2010.

Previously, the Syracuse orchestra funded the entire event. When it stepped in to help, the Rotary became responsible for fundraising for the $35,000 needed to put on the concert every year. The Orchestra of Northern New York took over performing the music in 2013.

“Mike (Miller) was a one-man show,” McLaughlin said.

Working with a Rotary committee, he’s been the force to find sponsors and donors to keep the music and fireworks going ever since, Jordan said.

He credited McLaughlin for sustaining partnerships with the city and the Northern New York Community Foundation to keep the concerts going.

“We plan not to fix what’s not broken,” he said.

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