In FD, fans sail away with Styx

It was no illusion as Styx sailed away on the Oleson Park Bandshell stage Saturday night.

Exuberant fans filled the area between the stage and the lawn chairs, in spite of the threat of rain.

And the organizers had added some rain mitigation after their experience last year.

“The roof on the stage can move independently of the sound bays,” said Shellabration President Jim Reed.

That way, the roof could be adjusted for different angles of blowing rain.

“We put up 8 more feet of stage and roof too,” Reed said.

At the start of the evening, the sticky heat was more oppressive than the rain, but Reed wasn’t worried.

“Heat is not a concern,” he said. “Rain’s a little harder to deal with.”

As far as ticket sales go, this was a record year for sponsorships, Reed said. Sponsors bought1,200 tickets before general sales even began, he said.

“If the weather holds, I anticipate we’ll sell a record number tonight,” he said.

Some of those free ticket winners were on their first trip as a couple – a pre-honeymoon of sorts.

“We just got married last weekend,” said Jessie Thomas, who was with her husband, Lucas Thomas. They are from Cedar Falls. “We won some tickets on the radio.”

Lucas Thomas is a big classic rock fan, he said.

Other ticket winners found they’d arrived a little too late to get the best seats. Still, Kyle Fesenmeyer and his wife, Toshia, of Carroll, were still enjoying the sound from the third to back row.

“We can hear them just fine,” Kyle Fesenmeyer said.

A big Styx fan, he said his favorite song is “Renegade.”

“I’m pretty excited,” Kyle Fesenmeyer said. “This is my first time seeing a big, older 80s band. I like to watch people too,” he said, looking over the rows and rows ahead of him.

Near the front row, Jackie and Phillip Albers, of Swea City, enjoyed the opening band, the Down To Earth Band.

“This band is from my hometown,” Jackie Albers said. “We’ve seen them quite a few times.”

They’ve been Styx fans “forever and ever,” she said, and they were looking forward to seeing the band. They’d gotten into line at about 4 p.m. to wait for the gates to open at 5:30.

Phillip Albers said he’d been to a Styx concert back when they were first getting big.

“That was probably 35 years ago, in Cedar Falls,” he said.

Does he think the band’s still got it?

“Oh yeah,” he said. “They’re my age, they’ve got to.”

The sound carried far past the best seats and even worst seats in the house. Tim and Michelle Hansen, of Marengo, were sitting in their family’s front yard across from Oleson Park. They get to see the concerts from a distance like this every year.

“Styx is going to be there tomorrow in Cedar Rapids,” just a short drive from their town, Michelle Hansen said. “We could have seen them there.”

They didn’t mind that the bands were barely visible across the lawn.

“We get some binoculars, and it’s beautiful,” Tim Hansen said.