Sixth annual 9-11 tribute concert will also honor I-35W bridge victims, recovery workers

Sept. 11 happened six years ago, but many Linden Hills residents aren’t ready to forget. Each year, the neighborhood holds a tribute ceremony at the Lake Harriet Bandshell to honor the memory of those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Things are not the same as they were prior to 9-11,” said Bob Bayers, founder of the event and owner of Bayers Hardware, one of the tribute’s sponsors. “You can go on and have your normal life, you know, go to work … but take a special opportunity that day to reflect on the enormity of that attack and how it affected your life and the future.”

Bayers isn’t some fanatic who can’t let go of the past — he didn’t even know anyone who was killed in the attacks. “I don’t have any more connection or reason to do it other than I don’t want to have people forget,” he explained.

In the summer of 2002, Bayers and his neighbors Rhea Sullivan, Bob Harvey and Brice Hamilton were standing outside the hardware store talking about the success of Linden Hills Live. “The thought was shouldn’t we have a grand finale to end this first season?” Bayers recalled. “And then the thought was well, you know the first anniversary of Sept. 11 was coming up.”

Bayers contacted the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and got permission to use the bandshell. He found numerous sponsors, including Lake Harriet Masonic Lodge, Susanna Franklin Design and Tierney Brothers Inc. to help pay for food and materials.

This year, the tribute falls on a Tuesday. It will begin at 7 p.m. with the raising of the United States flag, as music spills out from the stage. The audience is invited to sing along to the Star Spangled Banner and, wearing their traditional colonial garb, the Color Guard Heroes of ’76 will bring in the state and military flags.

Linden Hills residents Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello of WCCO News will co-host the event, performing a vocal reenactment of newscasters reporting the tragedy as it occurred. As they describe the planes hitting and the towers falling, four huge banners with the 3,000 names of the people who died on 9-11 will unfurl.

With the recent Interstate 35W bridge collapse, some Linden Hills residents are feeling particularly touched by catastrophe. “I think what we do each year is a beautiful, respectful tribute to the people that lost their lives that day and the heroism shown on that event by all the rescue people,” Bayers said. “And that’s why we are doing a special added tribute this year regarding the 35W bridge collapse.”

Mayor R.T. Rybak, who has attended four of the previous tributes, will give a brief speech reflecting on the victims, survivors and first responders of the collapse. “It wasn’t an attack, but it was still showing how people come together to help each other,” Bayers said.

Overall, the event will revolve around music. It helps us to heal and reflect, Bayers said.

“We try to have very few words spoken,” he said.

The volunteer performers consist of roughly 130 singers and orchestra members from choirs and bands across the Twin Cities who have been practicing more than a dozen songs since mid-August.

Bayers specifically geared the event to be family-friendly. Kids are invited to participate in a parade around the infield by the bandshell, waving flags and following a young volunteer drummer. The evening will end with a candlelight vigil and fireworks off the boat dock.

The 2007 tribute is dedicated to Bayers’ father who died last spring at age 91.

Contact Mary O’Regan at [email protected] or 436-5088.