Click here to view a photo showcase of the Loessfest concert.
COUNCIL BLUFFS — As the sun set Saturday over Omaha and Council Bluffs, thousands of people from both cities got up and danced to “Good Vibrations” and “Little Deuce Coupe.”
The Beach Boys were onstage for the inaugural event at Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park, and an estimated 17,000 were there to watch the group with the Omaha skyline as a backdrop.
The park's Great Lawn was filled front to back with people of all ages sitting on camp chairs and blankets while the classic surf band played.
It was an introduction to the park, south of the Iowa landing of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Many crossed the bridge from Omaha to get to the park, including Gale Kline.
“It's a lovely place. I love the park,” said Kline, who remembered dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets' “Rock Around the Clock'' back when the space was the original Playland Park. “This will be a lovely new place for everyone to come.”
Kline and a friend arrived several hours early to reserve a good spot on the lawn to see the Beach Boys.
“I'm very happy for Council Bluffs,” Kline said.
Concert organizers thanked those sitting on the lawn and lining the pedestrian bridge for coming to the park's inaugural event.
“Welcome to Council Bluffs,” said Mayor Tom Hanafan, for whom the park was named in a ceremony Wednesday night.
“What an exciting night for Council Bluffs, Omaha and the entire metro,” added Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “This pedestrian bridge now has a really exciting landing on the Iowa side.”
After a short set of mostly covers by sister singers Mulberry Lane, the Beach Boys took the stage to an excitable audience.
“Thank you so much for showin' up,” said band leader Mike Love. “Whoever thought about havin' a concert like this is a genius.”
John Stamos, known for his roles in “Full House” and “ER,” joined the band and often received more applause than the classic group.
Love took turns mocking and praising Stamos, who played guitar and percussion and sang lead vocals on “Forever.” The band's lead guitarist even played the riff from Rick Springfield's “Jessie's Girl” as a tribute.
“Thank you for having me this evening,” Stamos said. “It's a thrill.”
The eight-member group, including Stamos, worked through the band's countless hits, including “Surf City,” “Surfin' Safari,” “Surfer Girl” and “I Get Around.”
The Beach Boys also played more recent and obscure offerings such as Love's solo song “Cool Head, Warm Heart” and “Forever.”
As the night wore down, the band continued with hits like “Wouldn't It Be Nice,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “California Girls” and “Barbara Ann.”
Songs such as “Good Vibrations” and “Kokomo” got people off their seats and blankets and dancing. During “I Get Around,” one man led a conga line hundreds of people long that wove through the audience.
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MUSIC AND MORE
Saturday's event was the first of three days of music at the new Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park.
» Today, beginning at 8 p.m., the Omaha Symphony will perform patriotic selections. The symphony will be joined by Brass in Blue and a fireworks show afterward.
» On Monday, beginning at 4 p.m., the Playing with Fire concert series brings jazz/blues to the park. Mojo Band, Satchel Grande and M2J will be on stage followed by the headlining act, Vintage Trouble.
Movies in the Park: Wednesday, 7 p.m., and June 5, 9 p.m.
“Grease” will be screened following a performance by the Rumbles on Wednesday; the Rumbles take the stage at 7 p.m., and the screening will follow. On June 5, Movies in the Park returns with “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” starting at 9 p.m.
Rumble on the River: June 1 and 2: Youth soccer tournament with teams of up to six players for kids under 12.
Bluffs Bash: June 7, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and June 8, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Artists and musicians will be a part of the final event celebrating the park opening. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will perform as the finale to the celebration at 7:30 p.m. on June 8.
» Parking is available just south of the Great Lawn, where the concerts will be held, plus added space underneath the Interstate 480 bridge. If conditions are dry, parking also is available just east of the Great Lawn with access from South 40th Street.