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Article updated: 5/12/2013 5:13 PM

Chill doesn't keep crowds from Lilacia Park concert

By Matt Arado

Mother Nature delivered a mixed bag of weather on Mother's Day, but the end result was good enough to draw hundreds out to Lombard's Lilacia Park for an afternoon of live big-band music.

Bill O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners Big Band took the stage Sunday on a chilly but sunlit afternoon in front of an appreciative crowd. The band has become something of a tradition for the Mother's Day concert at the park.

"It's fun because this is one of the more beautiful places we play," said Vincent Naples, the band's sound engineer.

Vocalist Leslie Beukelman agreed, saying she enjoyed seeing so many families in the audience, especially when the children start dancing.

"And it smells so good here!" she added.

The band specializes in contemporary arrangements of classic big-band tunes by the likes of Count Basie, Buddy Rich and others. In addition to frequent outdoor shows during the summer months, the band plays regularly at Fitzgerald's Nightclub in Berwyn.

Sunday's show opened with renditions of the songs "Love For Sale" and "Dancing in the Dark."

Lilacia Park started filling up more than a half-hour before the concert's 1 p.m. start. Couples and families strolled through the park, taking pictures among the lilacs, spreading out blankets and setting up lawn chairs for the music to come.

Lombard native Tina Weatherhead and her daughter, Ashley, staked out a piece of lawn in front of the stage. They planned to meet Weatherhead's parents, Sue and Joe Balsamo, who still live in Lombard.

"We're going to have a picnic here and just enjoy the day," said Weatherhead, who now lives in Woodridge. "It's fun to come back here. I remember taking walks around here with my mom when I was growing up."

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