Early Morning Walks Show Stage Being Set for Y-Live

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For years, I have enjoyed early morning walks in Wick Park and Mill Creek Park. In the last few years, I have added walks along the walkways through the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater, the Community Alley under the Market Street Bridge and the Covelli Center.

Many mornings, I try to convince trains along the tracks near our Mahoning River, to give a “toot” as they pass through town. Often, they oblige. Occasionally I get near the river and enjoy the peacefulness of the flowing water. As communities along the river remove the steel mill era dams, the waters of the Mahoning River are looking better and better. For many, our river’s restoration is yet another reminder that we are leaving the Rust Belt memory behind us as we move into the Voltage Valley era of the region.

This past week, knowing that the Y-Live concert was returning to our calendar after a two-year pandemic hiatus, I decided to walk each morning along the walkways of amphitheater, alley and Covelli Center. What an absolute treat! As I walked each morning leading up to today, it was like seeing a behind-the-scenes documentary unfold.

Early Monday, planners were walking around with cans of bright orange spray paint making their marks on the asphalt, grass and surrounding area. Obviously, the months of planning were now being marked out as a grid map for what was coming. Then on Tuesday, items started arriving. Little by little, hour by hour, day by day, the now people-friendly area that once was the location of much of the local steel industry, started to take the shape of a major concert venue. In the beginning, a few large trailers were parked. Then the grounds were mowed, flower beds weeded and parking lot maintenance taken care of. Fencing arrived and trucks full of tent equipment started showing up.

In the meantime, a large banner was hoisted on the Covelli Center as a reminder to those visiting, that more entertainment was on its way this summer and autumn.

Early this morning, the stage awaits the Luke Bryan entourage.

Electrical equipment and power supplies and hundreds and hundreds of feet of electrical heavy-duty extension cords started to be laid out. A large number of trash receptacles and portable restroom facilities came down the driveway.

These arrivals made one realize that what was going to happen this evening was no small event. Food trucks and directional signs were put in place. Catering tents followed. Then portable couches, lounge chairs, high top tables and lighting fixtures became visible.

By yesterday morning, the usually wide-open acreage by the river was partitioned, fenced, signed and marked for what was coming.

Making my way through the maze of concert set-up, the sight and sound of electric carts, small pickups, lift equipment and other vehicles moving about caught my attention. It was obvious that the final checklist was coming together and being readied for visitors from all over.

Then this morning arrived.

Waking up a little before 5 a.m., I decided to take my walk around dawn. I Started at 6 a.m., passed through the quiet amphitheater area and approached the Community Alley under the Market Street Bridge.

Just beyond the bridge, “concert city” was waking up. As I approached the main drive next to Covelli, I noticed personnel and security taking their positions for last minute detailing.
I decided to walk back home with a slight detour, walked up the east side of the Market Street Bridge and headed south. I planned to take a picture of the finished product that I watched unfold all week long.

Standing at the top of the bridge, the sight was something, and I paused as my mind played back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. Each morning provided a few more pieces of this amazing puzzle and I was blessed to watch the pieces come together. As I stood looking east on this partly cloudy morning, I heard a rumble and humming and sound of approaching traffic behind me and over my shoulder. As I turned to check it out, the sight of several gleaming, colorful buses and other accompanying vehicles approached the bridge.

Luke Bryan: Photo by Jim Wright

BONUS! I was there to see our special guests arrive in the valley. Behind the initial entourage were several semi tractor-trailers whose side panels proudly shared the smile and person of Luke Bryan.

For a brief moment, I was transported back to my childhood when dad would take my sister and I to watch the circus come to town with its parade of performers, animals, clowns, workers and colorful vehicles and supply trucks. What a grand experience remembering it all as the Luke Bryan entourage made its way north on the bridge then turned right and entered the Covelli driveway. The walk home this morning was one I will never forget.

THANKS FOR COMING LUKE! Hope your visit is a good one! And thanks to the promoters, the planners, the sponsors, the workers, the providers and the attendees that made this evening possible!

Pictured at top: The author, Father Ed Noga, captures the view from the Market Street Bridge early this morning

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.