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Concert kicks off holiday

SUWANEE - Tonight, grab a blanket or some lawn chairs, throw together a picnic dinner and head over to Town Center Park in Suwanee for a patriotic kick-off to your Memorial Day weekend.

The 43-piece Band of the Air Force Reserve's Concert Band will give a free performance at 7:30 tonight. The music will include the national anthem and other patriotic tunes, as well as popular music, movie themes and everything in between. Before the concert begins, parachuters from the "Silver Wings," the Fort Benning Command Exhibition Parachute Demonstration Team, will land on the park lawn.

"It being Memorial Day weekend, we all get so caught up and so busy with other things, but this is a great and fun way to really remember what the holiday is about," said Lynne DeWilde, public information officer for the City of Suwanee.

The Concert Band has performed across the United States and in Russia, and has joined artists ranging from Bob Hope and Dinah Shore to Faith Hill and Restless Heart. The band's varied repertoire makes its shows a hit with young and old alike, said Master Sgt. James Verrelli, director of operations for the Band of the Air Force Reserve.

"A lot of people come up and tell me, 'Wow, I didn't expect that,'" Verrelli said. "We give them a little bit of everything."

The band is returning to Suwanee following a rousing performance last Memorial Day weekend. The parachuting demonstration is a new facet of the event.

Those attending tonight's show can bring chairs, blankets and picnics to the event, but alcohol is not allowed. There will be food available for purchase. Off-site parking and a free shuttle to Town Center Park will be available beginning at 6:30 p.m. and will be available at Shadowbrook Baptist Church, 4187 Suwanee Dam Road.

For more information on the concert, which is co-sponsored by the Gwinnett Daily Post and Operation One Voice, call 770-963-9205, ext. 1316. For more on the Band of the Air Force Reserve, visit www.band.afrc.af.mil. In case of rain, the concert will be held at Shadowbrook Baptist Church.