Kendra Renner


Observer Guest Columnist

Let’s talk about Tunes in Town. 

If you’re not familiar, Tunes in Town is a popular event put on each Tuesday at Lincoln Park in DeWitt and runs from 6 until 8 p.m. Different bands play throughout the summer, with food trucks and tons of lawn space to set up that Coleman lawn chair that’s been folded up in your garage for the past two years. 

If you’re not familiar with Tunes in Town, please check it out this upcoming Tuesday, Sept. 3, because I believe it is the last one of the year. 

Anyway, my mom and I stopped by because some classic cars caught our eye and my mom was feeling nostalgic. After telling me a few stories about her old Javelin and her friend’s Plymouth they spent many hours joyriding in, we decided to walk down and check out the band, maybe grab some ice cream. 

The place was packed. The playground was covered with giggly children sprinting at what seemed like 100 miles per hour with sno-cone syrup dripping on their shirts. Lawn chairs were spread across the park with wrinkled faces smiling and fingers tapping along to the rhythm. An aroma of fresh barbeque filled the air, and all just in time for the sun to be melting into the horizon, creating spills of orange and yellow hues on the park. The streets surrounding were lined with classic cars so shiny I felt they were too vulnerable to be exposed to life outside of a climate-controlled storage garage. 

After gazing one more time at the hot rods displayed proudly on the side streets, we began to hear the first few beats of “Sheila” by Tommy Roe. That’s all it took; the entire place went back in time. In an instant, the white-haired woman with Velcro shoes transformed into her 16-year-old self walking into the gym at her high school prom. The slow-moving man with a feather in his hat stood up and became a nervous young man again, hoping the pretty girl across the way would be up for a dance. The tan colored pants and white tennis shoes turned into tights and Mary Janes. The dance floor was full and alive with grandparents who hadn’t really aged at all. 

People who didn’t even know each other were pairing off to dance to “The Twist” by Chubby Checker and “Donna” by Ritchie Valens. I have never seen so many twists, dips, bends, and fancy footwork in my 26-years of life than I did by those folks heating up the dance floor in DeWitt, Iowa. My mom was singing every word, recalling the records Grandpa Ray had echoing throughout her childhood home in Petersville. I saw her as a little girl, twirling in her living room with her dad tapping his cowboy boot and bobbing his head to the beat. At this moment I found myself being completely present, engulfed in my surroundings. 

The music began to die down an hour or so later and people began exiting the dance floor. The young women with pearl necklaces and beehive hairdos again aged to wise, gentle grandmothers holding the hands of their grandbabies. The young men with bell bottoms smelling of Brut cologne matured once more to witty and kind grandpas who love to fish and have a mixed drink on the rocks every now and again. 

It was so refreshing to go to a public event without people being a little too intoxicated, littering their concession stand food ware, or becoming angry at one another. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a music festival or grandstands at the fair, but they can be overwhelming to say the least. Trust me, I do enjoy going to those events, but it’s nice to just sit and enjoy the company of one another without alcohol, garbage, and bad moods from accidentally touching somebody’s arm when you pass by them.

My mom and I watched everyone come back to reality, happy to go back to their “now” life, although feeling bittersweet remembering the past. Our bodies may age, but our hearts do not.

Kendra Renner is a rural Clinton County resident.