Lake County Board member Dick Barr launches karaoke event to boost spirits
Seeking to give people something fun to do while they're stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, a Lake County Board member is planning an online karaoke party.
Barr wants singers of all abilities to send him videos of them performing their favorite songs. He'll take the clips and play them Friday on the Facebook page.
Barr, who isn't up for reelection this year, said the event aims to see "if we can keep a social sense with our friends and neighbors while tucked away inside our homes."
He hopes the event will encourage people to obey Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plea for people to stay home.
"We still see many residents bucking the order, and getting together in large groups, which defeats the purpose of the shelter in place order," he said.
To participate, record a video and upload it to a Google Drive folder Barr established for the event. It can be found at the Facebook page for the event, facebook.com/events/214386592999068/.
You can also upload a video to YouTube and then share the URL with Barr.
County board member Judy Martini said she plans to sing.
"It will be fun," said Martini, a Fox Lake Republican. "Mental health is so important. If we can find some light at the end of the darkness, breathe, laugh and have a positive attitude, we will survive."
Lake County Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer, Treasurer Holly Kim, Clerk Robin O'Connor and other officials will submit a video of Neil Diamond's classic "Sweet Caroline" -- but with new lyrics Diamond recently unveiled on Twitter that include tips for social distancing.
Each member of the team will sing assigned lines alone, and then their videos will be edited together.
"I sang in my bathroom for better acoustics," said Vanderventer, a Waukegan Democrat. "If it brought a smile to my face, I'm hoping others will take just a second to laugh, too."
Not all county officials support Barr's effort. When asked about the event, county board member Paul Frank criticized Barr for prolonging an emergency meeting last week by proposing, arguing for and then withdrawing amendments to an extension of the county's emergency declaration.
The extension was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support. Barr was one of three members -- all Republicans -- who voted against it.
"I think this karaoke thing is a much more appropriate way for Dick Barr to waste his time," said Frank, a Highland Park Democrat. "I'm focused on communicating relevant information to the public, protecting our employees and the people in our care and supporting our staff and the health department."
Barr isn't the only one turning to the internet for live events during the pandemic. Several suburban libraries, including those based in Lincolnshire, Libertyville and Elgin, have launched story time sessions online. Some musicians have staged live concerts from their homes, too.
Barr predicted online gatherings will become more popular as the crisis drags on, and continue after it ends.
"I think we're going to see a whole new level of entertainment that will be online based, and more than social media," Barr said. "(It will be) organized, sophisticated entertainment that you can do from home."