September means transition – summer vacations end, school starts, nights get chilly, trees begin their inexorable palette change.
And on Thursday, the weekly Sonic Lunch series came to a close at Liberty Plaza, just as workers started hanging holiday lights there.
They couldn’t have ordered up better weather for their season finale, and dozens of people turned out to eat lunch in the park or just listen to this week’s band, the Dave Sharp Quintet. (Or, as Dave pointed out during a break, the Dave Sharp Quartet, plus musical guest Topaz, on sax.)
It’s hard to go without seeing someone you know. Bob Dascola from Dascola Barbers dropped by, as did county administrator Bob Guenzel and Hans Maier from the Bank of Ann Arbor, which sponsors the event. Hal Davis, who got this whole thing off the ground last year, was there, too.
Davis is a local entrepreneur who founded BlueGill Technologies years ago, then sold it in 2001 for $250 million. Last year he called Jesse Bernstein at the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce and proposed funding an event like this, if the chamber would handle the logistics. So they did.
This year, the Bank of Ann Arbor took over sponsorship, and one of its board members – Ernie Perich, of Perich Advertising & Design – came up with the Sonic Lunch brand. They made brown bags for local restaurants to use on Thursdays for carryout orders, places like the nearby Le Dog, Salsarita’s, Afternoon Delight and several others. They hung banners from street lamps along Liberty and Division. They partnered with the radio station 107.1-FM. They made it into A Thing.
Davis picks the more than dozen bands that play throughout the summer – including The Ragbirds, Laith Al-Saadi, The Terraplanes, and a band that Davis is in called HiDef.
Dave Sharp said he also played a concert there when Liberty Plaza was “rechristened” a few years ago after it was renovated. It’s not a bad venue, he said. “The weather is perfect today, so it’s a great gig.”
Amid the lunching and music, Pete of Holiday Lighting Service of Manchester was perched rather precariously on a wooden ladder, winding strands of LED holiday lights around the Liberty Plaza trees. They normally used a truck with a cherry-picker, but had to move when the band set up.
The height didn’t bother him, but there were other hazards.
“These particular trees have thorns,” Pete said.