Hundreds of central Iowa community members gathered at Water Works Park to eat ice cream and listen to free music on a hot and humid Labor Day.
Andrew Killinger, senior vice president of digital platform strategy at Weber Shandwick and Iowa State alumnus hosted a free Labor Day concert for the Des Moines area and surrounding communities. Killinger and most of his family graduated from Iowa State and have midwestern roots.
“I’m on the advisory council at Greenlee, graduated from Greenlee in 2006 and my mom is an [alumna], all of our family for the most part is; my younger sister is an [alumna] from the school of music and we were all in the marching band,” Killinger said.
Killinger’s late grandfather was a band director at North High School and helped build the family’s connection to music. Killinger participated in the Iowa State Cyclone Varsity Marching Band, playing the trumpet, and even earlier his mother was the drum major back in the 70s.
“I think one of the things that is interesting about music and just amazing [...] It’s the original way we as humans learn to communicate and I think what it means for our family, it's a way of sharing everything together — for good things, for bad things, but it’s a common thread for everything we do in our life” Killinger said.
For more than 75 years, the Killinger family worked to enhance the community’s musical experience through performance or education.
The Killinger family hosted a Labor Day legacy celebration for central Iowa community members at Water Works Park in Des Moines. The event hosted musicians such as Iowa Military Veterans Band, the Killinger Big Band (the family got together and played jazz on stage) and the NOLA Jazz Band.
“The Killinger Big Band is actually founded by my great grandfather and his dad back in the thirties so that’s been going on for quite a while and then it’s kinda a little bit of an evolution of [music],” Killinger said.
The event was free and open to the public and featured ice cream, music and food.
“It harkens back to the days of the bandshell concerts in the town square. A community gathering of music, picnicking, some free ice cream and lots of fun,” said Kerry and Linda Killinger in a press release. “We intend for this to be an annual celebration of the music, family, community and the legacies that make this city and state great. Music has been a constant community thread throughout our history, and we hope to celebrate that with this event.”
Most of the visitors had a strong connection to the Killinger family, whether that be from the late Killinger being their band teacher or Andrew being their friend, while others enjoyed the music. Two visitors came to the event to support the family and the late Killinger, as he was their band director.
Two students from North High, Gary Timmons, a visitor and Drake alumnus and Susan Wallace, an Iowa State alumna, came to the concert to support the family.
“He really, really cared about the students and the band at North High – you could tell he really cared and he put his whole heart into it,” Wallace said.