I admit it, I try to avoid anything titled a “fest.” Whether the word is supposed to be short for festive (as in a cheery occasion) or festival (as in Woodstock), in my experience, most “fests” are mostly disappointing event. The promoters, their family and friends are having a good time, but they’re the inner circle. The rest of us wander around aimlessly through the exhibits or other activities, wondering why we went hours of out the way to attend.
But last Friday night, I attended a “fest” that really was festive. HippieFest 2006, at the Mountain Laurel Center in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, not far from Bushkill Falls, was meant to stir the heartstrings of baby boomers who had either been to the Original Woodstock, or wished they’d been there. The four hour long extravaganza starred many of the groups who participated in Woodstock, including: Mitch Ryder, Rare Earth, Country Joe McDonald, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Mountain with Leslie West and Corky Laing, Badfinger with Joey Molland, Melanie, Canned Heat, and Denny Laine. The Master of Ceremonies was Wavy Gravy, whose real name is Hugh Romney, and who is now over age 70. Mr. Romney was at Woodstock as a member of an entertainment/activist commune known as the Hog Farm, but he is best known for standing on the stage of the original Woodstock concert and announcing….” What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000!”
But I am digressing, at least a bit. What I really wanted to write here was how strange and yet wonderful, Hippiefest was. There were few people under age 50 in the audience, save for a few, reluctant youngesters with sullen faces who were obviously dragged by parents who couldn’t or wouldn’t get a sitter. The rest of the crowd had a kaleidoscope of tie-dyed shirts sporting a variety of bands, causes, and even an insurance company corporate outing. The wore peace symbols, love beads, and headbands. They were paunchy, thick in the middle, balding, dyed blonde, wrinkled, botoxed… What seemed unique about this crowd was the energy level. The band members were old, probably ancient to anyone under age 30, but they were jumping all over the stage, doing what they have done for more than 30 years, and doing it well. And the audience, even those who were clearly way into retirement age, were rockin in their seats, dancing in the aisles, grooving to the great sounds as if they were 15 and not 50+. The bodies were old, the faces were old, the bands themselves were old..but the spirit was as youthful as back in Woodstock. There were pronouncements to “give peace a chance” and “get together.” No one was angry, hateful, or half-dressed. The crowd, even when fueled by a lot of beer and mixed drinks (amazing that these were being sold at a concert where everyone was going to be driving home on mountain roads, cheaply enough to easily get seriously drunk) remained calm and relatively respectful of one another.
The concert when on for hours, but few left before the last group, the defeaningly loud Mountain, known for it’s hit “Mississippi Queen.” The line out of the parking lot was orderly despite the late hours. No one honked or yelled. Everyone had a good time,
You could say, it was a mini-Woodstock, new milennium style.
When I think of senior citizens, I think of my grandparents and parents, sitting quietly in wheelchairs or scooters, clapping hands to the hits of the Big Band Era. But we are not going to be “old” like them. The baby boomers may have aging bodies, but our minds, our hearts, and our spirits are young. We still care about the people around us. We acknowledge that even strangers we come in contact with are just friends we haven’t met yet, and that they have feelings. We answer our emails and phone calls. We don’t “talk to the hand.”
I think once again, the baby boomers will help to define senior citizens and revolutionize the world.
Please post your comments and opinions!