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When is A Mental Health Day
a Walk in the Park?

Review of Music for Mental Health Festival
Thomas Bull Memorial Park, Montgomery
Saturday, May 22, 1999

Story by Kevin Robinson
Pictures by Ellie Apuzzo

Ken Durland and his orchestra opened the festivities

Host: WPDH's
Mark Cooper
The obvious answer to that question is (or should be): "Anytime you choose." We've all taken the occasional "mental health day;" you know, just walked away from the housework, the office, the college classroom, whatever. Sometimes, just getting away from the stress and strain of the workaday world, just taking a walk in the sunshine and feeling the grass between our toes, is just the medicine we need to replenish our famished soul, refresh our haggard bodies, and restore some tranquility to our world-weary minds.

Charlie Lang
Nobody understands this better than folks in and around the mental health community. And, thanks to the Mental Health Association of Orange County and the Orange County Parks & Recreation Department, on Saturday, May 22nd [1999], we all had the opportunity to enjoy a "mental health day" in the park. To be specific, it was the Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery, and the healing power went well beyond the gloriously perfect weather and the marvelously maintained facility. The air that day was filled with the sound of live music.

From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the bandstand echoed with food for the soul. Host for the day was WPDH's own morning guy, Mark Cooper. Bandleader and trombone player, Ken Durland and his orchestra opened the festivities, followed by local singer/songwriter/keyboard wizard, Charlie Lang. Durland woke the crowd, and Lang had many of them dancing in the fresh cut grass. Local and regional bands followed, including: Ariel, Judith Tulloch, Little Sammy Davis, Liz Queler, and former Rhythm and News Magazine's Budweiser Band of the Month, Perfect Thyroid.

Judith Tulloch
Little Sammy Davis
Perfect Thyroid

All day long, there were wandering jugglers and clowns entertaining the children, as well as pony rides, Cassy the Jump Castle, and a host of big cuddly costumed animal characters. "McGruff the Crime Dog" was there with an official police escort. I even saw several mechanically animated jungle creatures being gleefully ridden by "children" of all ages! Three nationally recognized acts brought the near-perfect day to a near-perfect conclusion. Folk legend, Cliff Eberhardt took the stand at around 4:00 p.m., followed by the unforgettable voice of Maria Muldaur. Larry Chance & the Earls took the show home, and everyone left feeling better about Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Cliff Eberhard
Larry Chance & the Earls
Maria Muldaur

This was the "Second Annual Music for Mental Health Festival," and you should mark your calender for next May now. Not because it's a worthwhile project. Not because the Mental Health Association serves over 32,000 children every year. Not even because you and/or your company could make a difference by becoming involved. Sure, that stuff's true enough; but, first, just make a date with your family. Spend a day in the park together that will heal a host of worldly hurts and hostile influences. Get your kids away from the TV and share a mental health day with the ones you love.

Kevin Robinson is a freelance writer/photographer, and the author of three "Stick Foster" hardback mystery novels. A former syndicated columnist for the Detroit Free Press, his byline has appeared over 100 times in national and regional periodicals. Kevin is a partner at No Bull Productions, and his PR credits include promotion and booking work for several of Kansas City's top blues bands. Kevin can be reached at Ellie Apuzzo owns and operates Ellie's Consider It Done. She provides "on-site oversight for absentee owners" here in the Florida Keys; and so far, this lifelong New Yorker just can't seem to get into "Keys time!" Ellie can be reached at

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