On Tuesday, May 18th from 5:00-8:30 pm The Mason City Foundation will host a free event open to the public at Music Man Square to celebrate the life and work of the “Real Music Man”, Meredith Willson.
The celebration will include music, singing, and dancing throughout the streetscape. Ice cream and birthday cake will be provided by the Candy Kitchen Ice Cream Parlor and HyVee. Enjoy popcorn and a showing of The Music Man in Reunion Hall starting at 6:00 pm.
Meredith Willson, best known for his infamous Broadway musical hit, The Music Man, drew upon his childhood memories of growing up in Mason City to create his most beloved Broadway masterpiece. When asked about creating the fictitious River City and its characters, he was quoted as saying, “I did not have to make anything up, I simply remembered the memories I had of the people and places I experienced as a boy.”
From an early age, Meredith was submersed into a life of music. His mother, Rosalee was a music teacher giving lessons to hundreds of girls and boys, including her own. Meredith’s instrument of choice was the flute and every day it was said he and the barber’s daughter would play a duet of flute and piano at the Mason City Cafeteria to split a wage of $1.50.
At age 17 he moved to New York City to pursue his love of music where he studied at the Institute of Musical Art (now known as Julliard). He went on as a musical director on many national radio shows and wrote memorable standards such as, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and “‘Till There Was You,” which the Beatles turned into a big hit in 1963.
The innocent Northern Iowa of 1912 made a lasting impression on Meredith. He was able to capture the attributes and ideas of the time through his musical talents and creation of The Music Man. Willson’s memories, which were captured in this beloved story has made Mason City more than just a dot on the map! And now 119 years after his birth in 1902, the people of Mason City will keepMeredith Willson’s memory alive by celebrating his 119th birthday at The Music Man Square.
Music Man Square is a wonderful retreat to Willson’s boyhood, and includes a museum, his boyhood home, a recording studio, and a 1912 River City Streetscape. The piano actually used by Willson to compose many of his musical treasures can be seen in the museum.
Public events like this one are just a taste of what makes Mason City, Iowa a phenomenal place to live. Beyond the natural beauty, picturesque neighborhoods, numerous employment opportunities, top-notch schools, and great healthcare, Mason City prides itself on its strong sense of community. This is a place where old-world charm meets the sophistication of modern-day living. This is not a place easily forgotten, as Meredith Willson well demonstrated.
Come enjoy this free public event! For more information click HERE.