A night meant for shaking your booty instead became a night of shaking your umbrella between downpours at Mill Race Park in Columbus.
Or maybe shaking your fist at the stormy skies.
Heavy rain and an expected thunderstorm with lightning canceled Saturday’s Rock the Park concert with 1970s disco headliner KC and the Sunshine Band. Lead singer Harry Wayne Casey had said a couple of weeks ago that his 15-member group would open the show with one of its biggest hits, “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.”
Kathryn Armstrong, executive director of the nonprofit Columbus Area Arts Council that organizes the event, said about 70 minutes before opening band Minefield Neighborhood was to have taken the stage that the event was canceled.
“We felt this was the best and safest route,” Armstrong said when mentioning the lightning.
The arts council staff said earlier in the week that the show could continue with some rain but not high wind or lightning.
Several minutes after Armstrong announced the decision, mild lightning flashed in the distance as people patiently left the park before the gates near the amphitheater event site ever opened.
The arts council has a rain insurance policy to protect it from losses in such a situation. Its rain policy with Johnson-Witkemper Insurance for the Rock the Park concert features $75,000 of coverage for an annual premium of $3,300, agent Dan Fox said. Coverage stipulates that three-fourths of an inch of rain must fall between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. at the park the day of the event for the arts council to collect on the insurance.
Tami Sharp, the arts council’s program director, said she was uncertain if enough rain fell to qualify for a claim. She also said she was uncertain how many tickets had been sold because she had spent considerable time at the park with arrangements the past two days.
The event had never been canceled since it began in 2008 at the park. It has grown in popularity, with 6,000 to 7,000 people attending each of the past three concerts.
Organizers posted ticket refund information on the arts council website at artsincolumbus.org.
Though early arrivals at the park Saturday were fewer than those entering the venue under last year’s sunny skies for the Charlie Daniels Band, fans said they were nonetheless hopeful that the show could go on. A number of them sat undaunted in a steady rain outside one of the gates to the venue two hours before the show.
Sheridan Bolte of Seymour was among those. She recently had double-knee replacement surgery. But the woman with a dozen of the headliner’s 45 rpm records was determined to slip on her boogie shoes at some point.
“My husband and I used to dance to ‘Get Down Tonight,'” Bolte said, adding that she was in her 30s then. “We even took disco lessons.”
Tom Burbrink smiled when asked if he would stay throughout a downpour at the show.
“Well, I have an umbrella,” Burbrink said.
Penny Bixler of North Vernon sat with a happy-face umbrella in a downpour outside the concert gate an hour before the show. She remembered the band mainly from her junior high days.
“The music just spoke to me,” she said. “I loved to dance.”
Rock the Park ticket holders will be able to obtain a refund. For tickets purchased at the Columbus Area Arts Council office or Circle K, refunds will be available at the arts council office at 300 Washington St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday.
For tickets purchased online, refunds will be processed within the next three to five business days.
More information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.