Government shutdown may nix naval band for Autumn Fest

2013-10-09T12:27:00Z 2013-10-09T23:54:06Z Government shutdown may nix naval band for Autumn FestGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
October 09, 2013 12:27 pm  • 

LANSING | U.S. Navy officials will determine Thursday whether or not the Liberty Call brass band based at the Great Lakes Naval Base will be allowed to perform this weekend at Autumn Fest.

The festival scheduled to take place at Ridge Road and Henry Street near the clock tower is to include a Sunday morning tribute to the military.

That program was to have as its grand finale a performance by Liberty Call — a brass band performing jazz and pop music that is one of eight musical groups assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Base near North Chicago.

Joel Thiesfeldt, of the Great Lakes base, said the band confirmed its performance for Autumn Fest prior to the federal government shutdown, which prevents government spending on nonessential activities.

Thiesfeldt said that initially, band members were told they could not refuel their vehicles, which limited their traveling abilities.

While that restriction has been lifted, Thiesfeldt said the band may still not be permitted to play if naval officials determine it would not present the proper image for a federal government-funded band to perform at a time when only essential activities are allowed.

Thiesfeldt said a final decision to honor the commitment to perform at Autumn Fest would be made Thursday.

When the issue was a matter of transportation, Jo-Ellyn Kelley, owner of J.J. Kelley’s Restaurant & Pub, 2455 Bernice Road, said she was willing to organize volunteers to transport the band members to and from Lansing to perform.

“This is how the government shutdown is impacting us,” Kelley said. “It’s a bunch of nonsense.”

Kelley is working with Deborah Albrecht, the Lansing Public Library executive director, and Lan-Oak Park District Director John Wilson to try to coordinate such transportation.

Albrecht said she last spoke Tuesday with Great Lakes officials, who said they were waiting for the final decision from ranking officers.

“They may decide it’s not appropriate to perform, even if we’re willing to transport them,” she said. “But if it really is just a matter of transportation, we have volunteers willing to help out.”

Thiesfeldt said the transportation issue was no longer a primary concern.

“It’s an optical thing,” he said of the decision. “The Navy doesn’t want to give the wrong impression to people.”

Should it turn out that the Liberty Call band is unable to play, Albrecht said the military tribute will still take place at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Musical acts including choirs from Illiana Christian and Hobart high schools will still perform, as will students from the Visible Music College that opened in Lansing earlier this year.

“There will still be a tribute to the military, it will be an important part of the Autumn Fest program,” Albrecht said. “It’s just that it would be nice to have Liberty Call as the grand finale.”

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