YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — For years I’ve enjoyed morning walks in Wick Park and Mill Creek Park. Over the past few years I’ve added walkways along the walkways through the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater, Community Alley under the Market Street Bridge, and the Covelli Center.

Many mornings I try to convince the trains along the tracks near our Mahoning River to give a “toot” as they pass through town. Often they oblige. From time to time, I approach the river and enjoy the tranquility of the flowing water. As communities along the river remove steel mill era dams, the waters of the Mahoning River are getting better and better. For many, the restoration of our river is another reminder that we are leaving behind the memory of Rust Belt as we enter the region’s tension valley era.

Last week, knowing that the Y-Live concert was returning to our schedule after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, I decided to walk each morning along the aisles of the amphitheater, the alley and the Covelli Center. What an absolute treat! As I walked every morning until today, it was like watching a documentary unfold behind the scenes.

Early Monday, planners were walking around with cans of bright orange spray paint making their mark on the asphalt, grass and surroundings. Obviously, the months of planning were now mapped out like a grid map of what was to come. Then on Tuesday, the items started arriving. Gradually, hour by hour, day by day, the now friendly neighborhood that was once home to much of the local steel industry, began to take on the shape of a grand concert hall. At first, a few large trailers were parked. Then the land was mowed, the flowerbeds weeded and the maintenance of the car park taken care of. Fences came up and trucks full of tenting materials began to appear.

Meanwhile, a large banner was hoisted over the Covelli Center to remind visitors that more fun was on the way this summer and fall.

Early this morning, the scene awaits the entourage of Luke Bryan.

Electrical equipment and power supplies and hundreds and hundreds of feet of heavy duty extension cords began to be laid out. A large number of trash cans and portable toilets are taken down the driveway.

These arrivals made people realize that what was going to happen tonight was no small feat. Food trucks and directional signs have been put in place. Catering tents followed. Then portable sofas, lounge chairs, high tables and light fixtures became visible.

Yesterday morning, the usually wide open area by the river was divided, fenced, signed and marked for what was to come.

As I made my way through the maze of the concert facility, the sight and sound of electric carts, small vans, lifting equipment, and other moving vehicles caught my eye. It was obvious that the final checklist was coming together and being prepared for visitors from everywhere.

Then this morning came.

Waking up a little before 5 am, I decide to take my walk around dawn. I started at 6am, walked through the quiet area of ​​the amphitheater and approached Community Alley under the Market Street Bridge.

Just beyond the bridge, “concert city” was waking up. As I approached the main driveway next to Covelli, I noticed staff and security taking their positions for last minute details.
I decided to walk home with a slight detour, walked up the east side of the Market Street Bridge and headed south. I planned to take a picture of the finished product which I watched unfold all week.

Standing at the top of the bridge, the view was something, and I paused as my mind raced through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. Every morning I provided a few more pieces of this amazing puzzle and got to see the pieces come together. As I looked east on this partly cloudy morning, I heard a rumble, a buzz, and the sound of traffic approaching behind me and over my shoulder. As I turned to check it, the sight of several bright and colorful buses and other accompanying vehicles approached the bridge.

Luke Bryan : Photo by Jim Wright

PRIME! I was there to see our special guests arrive in the valley. Behind the initial entourage were several tractor-trailers whose side panels proudly shared Luke Bryan’s smile and persona.

For a brief moment, I was transported back to my childhood when Dad would take my sister and me out to watch the circus come to town with its parade of performers, animals, clowns, workers and colorful vehicles and supply trucks. What a great experience remembering all of this as Luke Bryan’s entourage headed north across the bridge, then turned right and entered Covelli Driveway. The drive home this morning was one I will never forget.

THANK YOU FOR COME LUC! I hope your visit is good! And thank you to the promoters, organizers, sponsors, workers, service providers and participants who made this evening possible!

Pictured above: Author Father Ed Noga captures the view from the Market Street Bridge early this morning

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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