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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sun, crowd emerge in time for Spokane Symphony concert

Usually people share blankets and lawn chairs, but this year umbrellas and big blue tarps were in high demand, too, as picnickers claimed their spots at the Spokane Symphony’s traditional Labor Day concert in Comstock Park.

Showers came and went all afternoon, but the sun broke through around 5 p.m.

John and Su Funkhouser came from Post Falls, undeterred by the showers they hit on the way.

“We came through some pretty heavy downpours, but we just love the symphony. We wanted to be here,” Su Funkhouser said. They had stopped at a sandwich shop on the way, and got in early to stake a good spot in front of the stage.

John Funkhouser passed the time reading while his wife knitted. “We have been here many times before, but it’s been a couple of years since we last made it,” Su Funkhouser said. “We weren’t going to miss this one.”

The symphony’s marketing and public relations director, Annie Matlow, was a little worried about low attendance, but her mood lifted as the skies cleared and the lawn in front of the stage filled up. “Our symphony fans are just hard-core,” she said, adding that at rehearsal Sunday evening, heaters were placed on stage not so much to warm the musicians but to protect the instruments.

Symphony Music Director Eckart Preu and resident conductor Morihiko Nakahara were in charge of the program, which included classical music by Beethoven, Rossini and Strauss, as well as some popular tunes.

“I’m here for John Williams,” John Funkhouser said. “I just love him.”

The concert event included a fall arts fair where organizations such as the Corbin Art Center, First Night Spokane and local theater and music organizations promoted their fall programs.

The Spokane Symphony also offered its Instrument Petting Zoo, where children could play tambourines, flutes and a violin.

Greg Youmans was there promoting the newly formed honk band P-Jammers Community Marching Band, a street band that performs at peace rallies and public protests.

“Yes, it is my brainchild,” Youmans said. “What I like is that we are not affiliated with any academic institution or other big organization. We just show up and play.” Honk bands began to form at rallies protesting the Iraq war. The name refers to what motorists do when they drive by political rallies they support. “There is actually quite a honk movement going on across the country,” Youmans said.

He said the band will perform at 4 p.m. Wednesday in front of the federal building in downtown Spokane.

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